The U.K. is putting in place "Tier 4" restrictions almost as tight as the full lockdown measures of the initial COVID-19 wave.
What Happened: Authorities in the U.K. are sounding the alarm over a new variant of the COVID-19 virus that is 70% more transmissible.
This raises worries that a dramatic spike cases — in a country already seeing record numbers — will overwhelm hospitals. The restrictions cover in London and southeast England.
The measures were an about-face after Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier promised that lockdowns should not impede Christmas activities.
Why It's Important: A new dimension to the pandemic could throw cold water on the optimism that has come after vaccinations began this month, even as the numbers of cases and death increased in some countries, especially the U.S.
Britain was the first country to begin giving people the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. PFE and its German partner BioNTech SE – ADR BNTX, with innoculations beginning on Dec. 8. The country's death toll has risen past 67,000.
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