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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Leon Neal/WPA Pool/Getty Images

England will impose a strengthened version of an earlier three-tiered system of local restrictions to curb COVID-19 when the national lockdown ends Dec. 2, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office has announced.

Why it matters: Johnson, who's expected to outline this "COVID winter plan" Monday, is being urged by scientists not to relax rules over Christmas and pressed by his Conservative Party members of parliament to discontinue strict measures that impact local economies, The Guardian notes.

By the numbers: Official figures show the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in the U.K. fell 13% in the seven days to Saturday, with just over 149,000 new cases confirmed.

  • 2,861 deaths from COVID-19 were reported in the same period — a 0.6% decrease.
  • Hospitalizations rose 6.1% in seven days, with 12,101 coronavirus patients admitted to the hospital.

Background: Under the highest level of the previous three-tier system, bars not serving meals closed and households were prohibited from mixing indoors or in some outdoor spaces.

  • The Liverpool city region and Greater Manchester in northern England were among the first to enter level three restrictions, prompting their mayors to complain that the rules were biased in favor of southern areas.

Flashback: Coronavirus pandemic's second wave strikes a divided U.K.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.