PM backs calls for national day of reflection to mark anniversary of Covid-19 lockdown

13 March 2021, 00:01 | Updated: 13 March 2021, 12:54

Boris Johnson is backing plans for a national day of reflection marking the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown
Boris Johnson is backing plans for a national day of reflection marking the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson is backing plans for a national day of reflection marking the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown and those who have lost their lives in the pandemic.

The end of life charity Marie Curie is planning a day of reflection to remember those who have died for March 23 - exactly a year since the UK was first told to stay at home.

It will include a minute's silence at 12pm followed by a bell toll, and people are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to signify a "beacon of remembrance".

Prominent buildings and landmarks will also be lit up across the UK.

Read more: Covid infection rate reaches lowest level in England since September

More than 100 care organisations, charities, businesses, emergency services, public sector bodies and community groups support the idea.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show 145,647 deaths had occurred in the UK by February 26 where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The pandemic has affected every single person in the country
The pandemic has affected every single person in the country. Picture: PA

Boris Johnson said he will observe the minute's silence at noon privately, while the head of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens has also leant his support.

Mr Johnson said: "This has been an incredibly difficult year for our country. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones, and who have not been able to pay tribute to them in the way they would have wanted.

"As we continue to make progress against the virus, I want to thank people for the sacrifices they continue to make, and hope they can look forward to being reunited with loved ones as restrictions are cautiously eased."

Marie Curie chief executive Matthew Reed said: "The last year has been one of the most traumatic and uniting in modern history. With so many of us losing someone close, our shared sense of loss is incomparable to anything felt by this generation.

"Many of us have been unable to say a real goodbye or comfort our family, friends and colleagues in their grief. We need to acknowledge that and recognise we are not alone.

"That's why on March 23, it is important that we all come together to reflect on our collective loss, celebrate the lives of the special people no longer here, support those who've been bereaved and look towards a much brighter future."

Sir Simon said: "Coming out of the toughest year in the health service's entire history, we need to reflect on the pandemic's deep toll, mourn those we've lost, and mark the service and sacrifice of staff throughout the NHS.

"It's also a moment to acknowledge how in adversity we saw strength, as friends, neighbours and communities have come together to help each other through the nation's worst ordeal since the Second World War.

"While we need continuing vigilance against this virus, the remarkable NHS vaccination programme now brings hope of better times to come."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford also support the day of reflection.

The day will also see community-led activities take place such as virtual assemblies, choirs, services and yellow ribbons wrapped around trees.

A series of free online talks will also take place featuring experts, bereaved families and celebrities, organised by the Good Grief Festival.