Covid: Economic growth beats forecasts and Welsh restrictions to easeon February 11, 2022 at 7:57 am

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday morning.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday morning. We’ll have another update for you this evening.

1. Economy grows ahead of expectations

The UK economy grew by 7.5% last year – ahead of forecasts – despite a slowdown in December caused by restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the Omicron variant, according to the Office for National Statistics. Last year’s rebound came after a 9.4% collapse in 2020 as the Covid pandemic spread and lockdown rules were imposed.

People shopping

Image source, Getty Images

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2. Wales’ face mask law could be scrapped in March

The law in Wales requiring people to wear face masks could be scrapped by the end of March, First Minister Mark Drakeford says, as his government relaxes restrictions. Covid passes for entertainment venues will no longer be needed from 18 February. Pupils will not have to wear masks in class from February 28, when the law requiring face coverings in public places, including places of worship, cinemas and museums will be relaxed. They will still be required in shops, hairdressers, salons, health and social care settings and on public transport.

A graphic showing the changing rules in Wales in February and March 2022
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3. University donor pulls support over Covid rules

Durham University’s biggest donor has withdrawn his financial support over “ridiculous and ineffective” Covid-19 restrictions. Mark Hillery, who donated £7m between 2015 and 2021, called a decision to reintroduce online teaching for two weeks in January due to a high number of Omicron variant cases in England’s north-east “a disgrace”. The university said it appreciated his support and added that health, safety and wellbeing were a priority.

Durham University

Image source, Durham University

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4. Drinkers shun beer during pandemic

UK beer sales plunged during the pandemic as people avoided pubs and drank wine and spirits at home instead, industry analysis suggests. Pubs, bars and restaurants lost £5.7bn of revenue from beer sales in 2021 alone, according to the British Beer and Pub Association, which is calling for a cut in beer duty to help it recover. The Treasury says it froze beer duty for a fourth year, saving brewers £900m.

Woman drinking glass of red wine

Image source, Getty Images

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5. Could anti-vaccine protest disrupt the big game?

Many British sports fans will be hunkering down for a late night watching American football’s Super Bowl this weekend. But the US Department of Homeland Security is warning police forces the game could be disrupted by a convoy of truckers – similar to that in Canada – planning to block main roads in major cities, by way of protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates. The Los Angeles Rams host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Rams and Bengals helmets next to the Vince Lombardi trophy, outside Super Bowl venue the SoFi Stadium, in Los Angeles

Image source, EPA

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And don’t forget…

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Want to check the latest self-isolation rules where you live? See our guide.

Chart showing the latest figures of 206 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test and 66,638 new confirmed cases
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