With most deaths in Europe, UK celebrates anniversary of COVID lockdown | Gallery news
One year to the day since Prime Minister Boris Johnson first locked the UK up to slow the rapidly spreading coronavirus, a national day of reflection has been organized by the end-of-life charity Marie Curie to remember people who died after contracting COVID-19.
“Whatever our faith or our philosophy, let’s take a moment together to remember those who have been lost, to give thanks for their lives and to recognize the inexpressible pain of separation,” said Prince Charles, who is a patron of Marie Curie.
The UK has recorded more than 126,000 virus-related deaths, the highest number of deaths from a pandemic in Europe and one of the highest in the world as a share of population.
Britain is expected to observe a minute’s silence at noon on Tuesday. Residents are also encouraged to stand at their doorstep at 8 p.m. with phones, candles and flashlights to signify a “lighthouse of remembrance.”
The London skyline will turn yellow as landmarks such as the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Wembley Stadium light up after dark. Other notable buildings that will be illuminated include Cardiff Castle and Belfast Town Hall. Churches and cathedrals plan to ring bells, light thousands of candles and offer prayers.
“Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown is a time to reflect on the past year – one of the most difficult in our country’s history,” Johnson said. “We must also remember the great spirit manifested by our nation over the past year.”
Few foresaw the scale of death and grief to come when Johnson, in a prime-time televised speech on March 23, 2020, issued an ‘instruction’ for the British people to stay at home.
Johnson, who within days of the stay-at-home order was issued tested positive for the virus and eventually ended up in intensive care at a London hospital, has been criticized for delaying the first lockdown. Italy was the first European country to be locked down earlier in March 2020, followed by most of the rest of the continent.
The children have spent many months locked away at home with their often restless parents and siblings who are also struggling to cope with the realities of life in lockdown.
The pandemic has also hit the UK economy, which has suffered its worst recession in more than 300 years. Pubs, restaurants, theaters, barber shops and all shops selling non-essential items like books and shoes have spent much of the past year shutting down.