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A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Germany’s shutdown, which was planned to last four weeks beginning Nov. 2, will remain through Dec. 20 in an attempt to lower the number of new cases in each region from the current 140 per 100,000 inhabitants per week to fewer than 50, the AP reports.

  • The country will enforce additional restrictions to private gatherings, expand mask mandates, reduce the count of customers allowed in stores and discourage traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Greece’s current lockdown, due to end Nov. 30, will be extended for one week amid a surge in cases.

  • Residents are only allowed to leave home for specific reasons, such as work, health, essential purchases, exercise or walking a pet, and they have to send a text or carry self-declaration.
  • A 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remains in place.

Lithuania has also extended its lockdown until Dec. 17, while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is considering limiting Christmas celebrations to six people.

Go deeper

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.

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.