Boris Johnson has warned actions to stop a second surge of coronavirus must be ‘tough now’ in order to ‘protect’ Christmas. His words came as stricter new measures are announced for areas where cases are on the rise. The PM said people have to be ‘both confident and cautious’ and that it is ‘crucial’ the country does not re-enter ‘some great lockdown again that stops business from functioning’. He told the Sun newspaper that the Government wants to protect Christmas: ‘We want everyone to have a fantastic Christmas. But the only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas is to be tough now. He wants us to grip it now and stop surges. The communities secretary said on 17 September, ‘Over the course of the day a full briefing will be made available to everybody including the councils and business community’. Earlier in the week many were sceptical of new measures: see next article.
The Government wants stronger enforcement of pandemic rules and proposed a register of environmental health officers to support councils and marshals to enforce social distancing, group gatherings and wearing masks. But a lack of detail has been criticised by councils who say rules have caused confusion. Hospitality venues’ records of contact details must be held for 21 days. Venues not following Covid-secure guidelines will be fined. Local authorities will be supported to use existing powers to close venues while police break up and fine large groups. Employers have a legal duty to ensure health, safety and welfare of employees. Marshals will help employers to meet their legal duties and the ongoing management of keeping the workplace Covid-secure). The Government’s reaction to medical advice and its attempt to stop a second wave brings the problem of people understanding and hearing.
‘The boat is our only chance for a new life in a safe country’, said Kamal, an Iranian Christian convert who has been in Calais for 10 days with his wife Niki and their baby daughter Sava. ‘I am too tired to carry on. If they try to stop us I will drown myself’. Over 4,600 people have crossed the Dover Strait on small boats so far this year, with increased surveillance and coronavirus travel restrictions having effectively closed the more popular method of hiding in vehicles. With inflamed UK rhetoric, the UK's immigration minister is discussing ‘new, comprehensive action plans’ to stem channel crossings. Priti Patel plans to use warships to intercept migrant vessels, but a MoD official said it’s ‘completely potty, inappropriate and disproportionate’. Kamal has lost everything since leaving Iran three years ago. They were incarcerated with 300 others after seeking refuge in Slovenia, where their savings were lost to the mafia.
Rationing plans for coronavirus tests in England will prioritise NHS patients, staff, care homes and key workers - especially teachers - as the Government grapples with a surge in demand. The tiered system for booking tests would follow a similar pattern to testing at the beginning of the pandemic, with NHS patients with respiratory conditions at the top of the list and healthcare staff and those who work in education also prioritised. The new strategy will be published in the week beginning 21 September, detailing efforts for more laboratory capacity, faster testing results, and the prioritisation list for testing. There is concern that making it more difficult to book a test could ultimately hinder efforts to contain the virus. Strict enforcement could quickly become unnecessary if more laboratory capacity were opened. Boris Johnson conceded that there was not enough testing capacity and that many are ‘deeply frustrated’.
Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith group parents have commenced a judicial review into the new relationships and sex education curriculum. The judicial review, launched by Let Kids Be Kids Coalition, will challenge the education secretary's decision to prevent parents from withdrawing their children from relationships lessons that came into effect on 1 September. The mandatory curriculum includes transgender and LGBTQ topics. While schools are required to consult parents on the lessons content, parents do not have any right of veto. Parents voiced concern that books on sexual orientation and gender dysphoria, like 'King and King', 'And Tango Makes Three' and 'My Princess Boy' are becoming normalised in primary schools and relationships education had become ‘sex education by a different name’. They do not want children exposed to ideologies that do not reflect the family’s religious convictions and are crowdfunding to cover the legal costs of their challenge.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, runs from 18 to 20 September. Hasidic Jews travel to Ukraine every Jewish New Year in their tens of thousands to worship at Rabbi Nahman's tomb. But Ukraine is keen to avoid a spike in coronavirus infections, and Kyiv has closed its borders to foreigners until late September. However, Ukraine has accused Belarus of encouraging more Jewish pilgrims to go to their shared border, as 2,000 (including children) are camped out at the border of the two countries, where charities and pilgrims are running out of food and medical supplies. ‘We are stuck here with no money, no roof, no food or drink’, said Haim Weitshandler. He urged the Israeli government to resolve what he called a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’. Ukraine said that Belarus was ‘exacerbating tensions’ by claiming that the pilgrims will be able to cross the border.
After pausing for the coronavirus lockdown and summer holidays, the Yellow Vests brought their anger back to the streets for a series of protests in Paris and a number of other French cities. Their last major protest was on 14 March, on the eve of local elections. This was just three days before the country went into lockdown for Covid-19. The protests were in defiance of a ban from President Macron over mass gatherings. It is almost two years since the first Yellow Vest protest on 17 November 2018. Their numbers at first soared and then ebbed. The question now is whether they will rise again like a phoenix from the ashes as social dissension grows over Covid restrictions. People fear another outbreak of violence on the Champs-Elysées, where all gatherings have been banned.
Six months ago Covid-19 was declared a pandemic and has turned the world upside down. Besides the devastating human toll there is the disturbing reality of rising authoritarianism and misuse of relief funds. The growing corruption related to Covid-19 spending calls for global, multilateral solutions. The G20 is one of the few international forums that has the potential to shape and implement policy to fight this crisis. While they promised US$21 billion to fight Covid in June, they have stayed silent on how they will ensure that the funds reach those who need them the most. Last week was the first time the G20 anti-corruption group met in seven months. Also the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in public contracting systems around the world and shown how unprepared governments are to buy safely during emergencies. South Africa is one of the worst offenders: see