Coronavirus: Britons take to streets to Clap for our Carers - but will it be the last one?

·4-min read

Britons have stood on balconies, doorsteps and pavements for the 10th week to applaud key workers on the front line against the coronavirus pandemic.

But it could also have marked the last display of the weekly ritual that honours those putting their lives at risk fighting COVID-19.

The woman who founded Clap for our Carers has said she is stopping now it has "carried us through the peak of the crisis".

Annemarie Plas, a 36-year-old Londoner, who was inspired by an idea from her native Netherlands, hopes its legacy will be to secure a living wage for Britain's lowest paid workers.

She also said she would like to see it become an annual event on the last Thursday in March each year.

Clap for our Carers first took place on 26 March and quickly took off, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and members of the royal family taking part.

The campaign was originally to show praise for NHS staff but was later extended to many other key workers, including care home staff, teachers, supermarket workers and delivery drivers.

News channels have been broadcasting the applause live from around the country as millions of Britons paused to applause care workers at 8pm each Thursday.

Videos of what was likely the last clap have circulated on social media, with MPs, police forces and NHS trusts among those tweeting support for the workers.

Mr Johnson, who took part in the event on the steps of Number 10, said NHS staff working during the pandemic are "selfless".

Posting a video of his clap on Twitter, Boris Johnson wrote: "Today's clap for carers marks 10 weeks of celebrating our wonderful NHS and carers in this way.

"I want to thank each and every one of our wonderful NHS and care workers for the incredible, selfless work they do to look after us all."

Surrey Police tweeted a video of moments from claps they contributed to, with the words: "We've spent the last 10 weeks participating in #ClapForCarers and while this will be the last one that we publish, know that we will continue to support our keyworker colleagues in all our partner agencies. To all keyworkers, whoever you are and whatever you do, we thank you".

This sentiment was echoed in a tweet with a video and message from Sheffield Hospitals.

"If tonight is the last night of #ClapForCarers, we would like to thank all of the key workers who have made it possible for us to continue to do our job," the tweet read.

"Your support has been incredible and tonight you deserve all the recognition. Thank you."

Several residents in the south east London town of Bromley told Sky News the tradition had caused them to make new friends with their neighbours - people who they would have unlikely otherwise met.

Children standing on the street read out poems wrote and showed drawings they made in appreciation of NHS workers, while adults sung songs of thanks.

But critics have argued the gesture deflects attention from government failings in providing testing and protective equipment to NHS workers.

Earlier on Thursday, NHS doctor Meenal Viz said on Twitter: "As a doctor, I've appreciated your support during #ClapForCarers.

"But instead of clapping tonight at 8pm, I'll observe silence in remembrance of my 237 colleagues who have died during the pandemic."

Ms Plas said she felt the movement had become "politicised".

There has also been criticism as some people broke social distancing to take part.

The number of people who have died from coronavirus in the UK is 37,837 - a rise of 377 since Wednesday.

The figures from the Department of Health cover coronavirus-related deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the community.

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World - a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We'll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.

If you'd like to be in our virtual audience - from your own home - and put questions to the experts, email afterthepandemic@sky.uk