The limit for wedding ceremonies and receptions is now only 15, a figure which includes the couple, the officiant, and guests. Funeral numbers remain at 30. Boris Johnson said, ‘I am deeply, spiritually reluctant to make any of these impositions, or infringe anyone’s freedom, but unless we take action we risk having to go for tougher measures later, when the deaths have already mounted and we have a huge caseload of infection such as we had in the spring.’ The Government's rule of six for social gatherings excludes weddings, funerals, baptisms, and organised outdoor sports. Justin Welby said, ‘It’s clear that the next six months will be challenging. It’s an urgent reminder that we must keep supporting each other - especially those who are struggling financially, physically, or emotionally.’

A new government scheme is enabling churches and charities to support some of the most vulnerable in the job market. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted those aged 18-24. Between March and August there was a 124% increase in claims for Universal Credit from people in this age group. With the economic future remaining uncertain, Rishi Sunak announced a new job creation scheme to help avoid damaging long-term employment for young adults. Dubbed the ‘kickstart scheme’, this package of support will subsidise the employment of 16 to 24-year-olds by providing six-month quality work placements that don’t cause existing employees or contractors to lose work; give a minimum of 25 hours per week for six months; paying at least the national minimum wage for their age group; and should not require people to undertake extensive training before they begin the job placement.

Ten workers at a hospital in Essex were suspended and two members of staff referred to the police amid claims that vulnerable patients with autism or learning difficulties were ‘dragged, slapped and kicked’. CCTV footage at the hospital, showing episodes of physical and emotional abuse, was passed to police after an unannounced visit by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection unit. At the time, the ten-bed hospital held eight adult female patients, who experienced ‘abusive, disrespectful behaviour' by staff. Staff failed to use ‘appropriate restraint techniques’, became angry with residents, and dragged them across the floor. Suspended workers included some who witnessed incidents but failed to report them. Pray for greater scrutiny of safeguarding procedures in care homes; for godly principles to generate the visible and hidden wellbeing of vulnerable communities; for complaints made by residents to be investigated and acted upon if necessary; and for God’s comfort for the abused.

The Prince of Wales has warned the climate crisis will ‘dwarf’ the impact of coronavirus. In a recorded message at the virtual opening of Climate Week on 21 September, he said that Covid-19 provided a ‘window of opportunity’ to reset the economy for a more ‘sustainable and inclusive future’ and the pandemic was ‘a wake-up call we cannot ignore’. In his message, he said, ‘Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to “reset” for a more sustainable and inclusive future. The environmental crisis has been with us for far too many years - decried, denigrated and denied. It is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.’ There is growing concern among citizens globally about climate change, although there are big differences about the level of urgency required to tackle the issue.

Without warning and with no explanation, Twitter suspended the accounts of Voice for Justice UK, ParentPower, 40 Days UK, and RSE Authentic. Twitter has not responded to requests for an explanation and for reinstatement. All four UK organisations are conservative and support traditional family values in education, seeking to protect children from abuse and exploitation. They also seek to uphold Christian belief and freedom of speech. None of them has at any time expressed or endorsed views contrary to or prohibited by Twitter’s terms of service. On the contrary, while supporting the family and upholding traditional moral values, all four respect individual freedoms and the right of choice, and campaign for children to be protected from exposure to materials that will cause demonstrable harm.

The UK could carry out Covid ‘challenge trials’, where healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with coronavirus to test possible vaccines. Challenge studies were used to test vaccines for flu, cholera and typhoid, but there were treatments to prevent volunteers from falling ill. Coronavirus trials have the added risk that should volunteers become unwell, the only drugs available will control the disease not remove it. University student Alastair Fraser-Urquhart will volunteer if the trial goes ahead. He said, ‘I think it might save thousands of lives and bring the world out of the pandemic sooner.’ Professor Peter Horby said the trials have the potential to advance science and help us to better understand coronavirus. ‘The risk in a healthy young adult with no underlying conditions is extremely low. What's been holding things up are ethical considerations.’

Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases after successfully slowing outbreaks early in the year. Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Montenegro, and North Macedonia saw higher case numbers in August than they did earlier in the year. Belgium, Italy, and the UK, Europe's worst-hit countries, are seeing a resurgence but, so far, nothing like March and April. Of the three, the UK's figures look the most worrying. France, Poland, the Netherlands, and Spain are taking action to curb a second wave. WHO’s regional director hopes the number of confirmed infections worldwide, creeping towards 30 million, will serve as a wake-up call. He said, ‘We have a very serious situation unfolding before us. There have been five million confirmed cases and more than 228,000 fatalities across Europe since the pandemic began. But we can fight it again'. See

Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged the EU to approve sanctions on officials accused of rigging the recent presidential election. Despite six weekends of mass protests against President Lukashenko over the disputed vote on 9 August, the EU has not followed through on its threat to impose sanctions on 40 Belarusian officials. ‘EU leaders have reasons not to push sanctions but I asked them to be more brave’. The opposition leader, who fled to Lithuania after the election, said: ‘Sanctions are important in our fight because they could force the so-called authorities to start dialogue with us in the opposition council.’