Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been caught between two prerogatives throughout the pandemic — his sober commitment to "follow the science" and his instinctive opposition to heavy-handed restrictions.

Why it matters: He now faces pressure from the opposition Labour Party to agree to a two-week "circuit breaker" lockdown, which the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies believes would reduce deaths before the end of the year by 29%–49%. But he's also under pressure from many in his Conservative Party to rule out any such measures.

Driving the news: Johnson's government is imposing new tiered restrictions in England, with Liverpool first to enter a local lockdown and London now facing "tier two" restrictions, which include a ban on indoor gatherings involving multiple households.

  • The opposition is fierce. Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has vowed to "stand firm" against plans to shift his city to "tier three" — which would see pubs closed and travel restricted — unless the government also provides economic support.
  • Amid a response seen by many as muddled, Johnson's approval rating has fallen from April's high of 66% down to 35%.

Other parts of the U.K. are heading in their own directions.

  • Northern Ireland is closing schools for two weeks and shuttering all bars and restaurants for at least a month.
  • Wales is weighing a "circuit breaker" lockdown and has announced an unprecedented ban on travel from hot spots elsewhere in the U.K. despite vocal opposition from the government in Westminster.
  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has consistently been out ahead of Johnson in announcing new restrictions. Frustration with Johnson's pandemic performance has contributed to a swell in support for Scottish independence — now at a record-high 58%, according to Ipsos.

The bottom line: The U.K. was remarkably united throughout the first wave. That's not the case heading into the second.

Go deeper: Special report — Europe's monster second wave

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2020 - World

Bibi Barometer: Second wave blues

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Pool, Gali Tibbon/Getty Images

The Bibi Barometer is a weekly feature of the new Axios from Tel Aviv newsletter. Sign up here.

Israel is slowly emerging from its second national COVID-19 lockdown, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is struggling to rebound politically from widespread criticism over his handling of the second wave.

Why it matters: Israel’s power-sharing government — the dysfunctional result of a year-long political standoff — is in danger of collapse less than six months after it was formed. Israel could soon face new elections, perhaps in March.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"— COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear themU.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Italy tightens restrictions Spain declares new state of emergency.

Amy Coney Barrett's immediate impact

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In her first week on the job, Amy Coney Barrett may be deciding which votes to count in the presidential election. By her third week, she’ll be deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Where it stands: The Senate votes on Barrett’s nomination tomorrow. If she’s confirmed, Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear her in at the Supreme Court within hours, an administration official tells Axios.

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