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Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis is scheduled to take his first trip outside of Rome since the coronavirus lockdown, AP reports.

The big picture: Italy was one of the earliest hubs of COVID-19, prompting tight social distancing requirements and travel restrictions to contain the virus. The Pope's last trip was in late February when he traveled to the the town of Bari in southern Italy.

  • He will visit Assisi next month to sign a letter to the clergy and Catholics worldwide, per the Vatican. The document, called an encyclical, is anticipated to highlight the importance of camaraderie throughout the pandemic.
  • "Because of the health situation, it’s the desire of the Holy Father that the visit be carried out privately, without any participation by the faithful," the Vatican noted in a statement.

Go deeper

Pope Francis congratulates Biden in phone call

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden spoke with Pope Francis on Thursday, thanking him for "extending blessings and congratulations" and praising the pope for his leadership in "promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world," according to the Biden transition team.

The big picture: Biden will be the second-ever Catholic president, joined only by John F. Kennedy.

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.