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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 Jan 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
Jan 19, 2021 - Health

WHO warns of "catastrophic moral failure" over coronavirus vaccine access

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday the world is "on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure" because of unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Why it matters: Tedros noted during an executive session that 39 million vaccine doses had been administered in 49 higher-income countries, while one lowest-income nation had "just 25 doses."

Florida police arrest data scientist who challenged state on COVID-19 dashboard

Florida's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard displayed on a computer screen. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Rebekah Jones, a former Florida health department data scientist who says she was wrongly fired last year, has been charged with one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Driving the news: Jones turned herself in Sunday night after a warrant was issued for her arrest. Authorities raided her home last month, causing outcry online after she tweeted a video of the incident.