A leading business figure in the county has warned the recovery post-lockdown may be "slower than many predict".
The comments come after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy – fell by 1.5% between January and March as lockdown took its toll.
A resilient performance in March helped soften the blow, with GDP rising by a better-than-expected 2.1% month on month – the fastest growth since August 2020 – despite restrictions remaining firmly in place.
The ONS said the reopening of schools in March and solid retail spending helped drive the recovery.
Jo James, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: "While the UK economy contracted in the first quarter, the downbeat headline figure masks a renewed momentum through the quarter from January’s drop in output to an exceptionally strong March outturn as lockdown measures started to ease.
“The decline in economic output in the first quarter largely reflected the squeeze on activity from coronavirus restrictions, which was partly offset by growing business resilience to those restrictions and a monthly boost from the reopening of schools in March.
“The first quarter decline should be followed by a robust rebound in the second quarter as the effects of the release of pent-up demand, as restrictions ease and the strong vaccine rollout, are fully felt.
“However, with the longer-term economic damage caused by coronavirus likely to increasingly weigh on activity as government support winds down, the recovery maybe slower than many, including the Bank of England, currently predict.”