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Protests against coronavirus lockdowns and vaccinations in Parliament Square in London, England, on Dec. 14. Photo: David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bars and restaurants in London and surrounding areas will be forced to close beginning Wednesday as the region is placed under England's highest alert for coronavirus restrictions, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday.

The big picture: Although Europe has beaten back a steep rise in coronavirus cases, several countries are issuing strict lockdowns over the holidays. London is seeing "very sharp, exponential rises" in coronavirus cases, and will be forced to enter the strictest of England's three-tier lockdown system, Hancock said.

  • The United Kingdom has reported the sixth-most coronavirus deaths in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.
  • The U.K. last week began to administer Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine to health care workers and the elderly after becoming the first country in the world to authorize it for emergency use.

What they're saying: "It is recommended that people should minimize travel unless it's necessary in a Tier 3 area, and should minimize travel where it's necessary to a Tier 3 area," Hancock said.

  • "We have taken this action to try to protect people and to try to slow the spread of this virus," he added.

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns — New cases down
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.