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Coronavirus signage outside the Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Dec. 19. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

U.K. health minister Sajid Javid on Sunday refused to rule out the possibility of new coronavirus restrictions ahead of Christmas, telling the BBC on Sunday that "at this point, we just have to keep everything under review."

Why it matters: The new Omicron variant has driven a surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.K., with daily infections reaching new record numbers this week.

What they're saying: Asked if he would rule out a "circuit breaker" — a short but strict lockdown — or other restrictions ahead of the holiday, Javid said, "There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don't think."

  • "At this point, we just have to keep everything under review."

The big picture: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was presented with a variety of options Friday to deal with the surging case numbers, ranging from more tempered guidances to a full lockdown, per Politico.

  • Current restrictions in the U.K. require residents to wear masks indoors and show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to attend a nightclub or large event.
  • Ministers are set to propose a two-week ban on indoor meetings, but the measure hasn't garnered Johnson's support, The Times reported Saturday.

State of play: The U.K. isn't the only country mulling new measures ahead of the holidays to slow Omicron's spread.

  • Italy's government is considering new measures that would require vaccinated individuals to show a negative COVID-19 test to access crowded places, like stadiums, cinemas and clubs, Reuters reported.
  • Masks may also be required outdoors, per Reuters.

Worth noting: Germany's national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, announced Saturday it is tightening travel restrictions for visitors from the U.K.

  • Travelers arriving in Germany from the U.K. will be required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status. The U.K. will remain on the "areas of variants of concern" list until Jan. 3.
  • Travelers will also be asked to present an up-to-date PCR test if they were in an area of variants of concern in the 10 days prior to arriving in Germany, the institute added.
  • In addition, a new travel notice from the U.K. government notes that only German citizens and residents will be able to travel from the U.K. to Germany.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Minneapolis and St. Paul to require vaccine or test for indoor dining

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

New vaccine-or-test requirements for indoor dining and drinking in Minneapolis and St. Paul take effect Wednesday.

The big picture: A growing number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York, have instituted similar requirements in an effort to protect public health.

Yes, but: Questions about enforcement, logistics and effectiveness of the temporary measures here remain.

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.