Boris Johnson and fellow leaders back day of reflection on anniversary of first COVID lockdown

Ellen Manning
·3 min read
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson tours the Lakeland Forum Covid-19 vaccination centre on March 12, 2021 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHARLES MCQUILLAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson and other leaders have backed a national day of reflection to mark the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown. (Getty)

Boris Johnson has joined support for a national day of reflection to mark the anniversary of the first COVID lockdown.

The charity Marie Curie is planning the day of reflection, which will remember all those who have died from the virus, for March 23.

The date is exactly a year since the government imposed the first national lockdown, telling people to stay home.

The day of reflection, which is supported by more than 100 care organisations, charities, businesses, emergency services, public sector bodies and community groups, will include a minute’s silence at 12pm followed by a bell toll.

People will be encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”, while prominent buildings and landmarks across the country will also be lit up.

Watch: Bereaved families call for a National 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.

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

Read more: The UK now has one of the lowest COVID infection rates in Europe

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will observe the minute’s silence at noon privately, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford also support the day of reflection.

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.”

Watch: How England will leave lockdown