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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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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

Jan 5, 2021 - World

Israel tightens COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

Despite launching one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in the world, Israel has had to counter a spike in new COVID cases in recent weeks. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty

Israel will impose new restrictions in its countrywide lockdown, closing schools and nonessential businesses beginning Friday to combat surging cases of the coronavirus, government ministers voted Tuesday.

The big picture: Israel’s COVID-19 cases, which dropped in October, have jumped to more than 5,000 reported daily in the new year, Johns Hopkins University data shows. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the public Tuesday to heed new restrictions as a faster-spreading variant of the virus first detected in the U.K. multiplies.

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

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