Remembrance Sunday events given go-ahead despite English lockdown

·3-min read

Remembrance Sunday events in England will be allowed to go ahead despite the coronavirus lockdown, Downing Street has said.

Events to honour those who gave their lives in the defence of the nation will be allowed to take place outside as long as social distancing measures are in place.

A national ceremony at the Cenotaph in London will also take place, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

Guidance will be issued to councils across England about how to safely mark Remembrance Sunday on November 8 and Armistice Day on November 11.

Remembrance Sunday
This year’s Remembrance Sunday event will not see large crowds gather at the Cenotaph (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It’s important that the country can continue to come together to remember the sacrifice of those who have died in the service of their country and we will ensure that Remembrance Sunday is appropriately commemorated while protecting public health.”

England is due to go into a second national lockdown on Thursday.

The spokesman said: “We are certainly not cancelling Remembrance Sunday events but we must be mindful of the risks such events pose, especially to veterans who are often elderly.

“What we are saying to local authorities in England is that they may organise remembrance services but they should be outside and social distance should be maintained.

“We will be updating the guidance shortly.”

Later, defence minister Johnny Mercer encouraged people to watch the national Remembrance Sunday event at the Cenotaph “on television”.

During defence questions, Mr Mercer told the Commons: “This is a very important time of year for the country, we encourage people to remember in their own way.

“There will be guidance given out by local authorities but remembrance events will be able to go ahead.

“There will be a small national ceremony at the Cenotaph that we encourage people to watch on television.”

The national ceremony at the Cenotaph is usually attended by senior politicians and members of the royal family, along with around 10,000 veterans and members of the public.

This year’s event will be on a much smaller scale and ministers had already urged people to stay away from the Cenotaph and watch the service at home on TV.

Regional councils in England have also adjusted their plans for this year’s commemorations, with the majority encouraging people to observe the traditional two-minute silence from home.

Several borough councils including Worthing, West Sussex, and Dartford, Kent, as well as York Minster Cathedral, will still hold commemorative services and wreath laying, though attendance will be severely limited.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council in Norfolk has encouraged people to place poppies in their windows and visit memorials in the days leading up to the official dates.

The service at Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, which also commemorates the victims of the bombing of the event in 1987 and is normally attended by First Minister Arlene Foster, will be live streamed.

Events to mark both Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day across Scotland have been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions, though people are encouraged to take to their doorsteps at 11am on both days to mark the two-minute silence.

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