Coronavirus: Clap for Carers should end, says founder
2020-05-23 02:37

The UK's weekly applause for front-line workers tackling the coronavirus outbreak has "had its moment" and should end next Thursday, the woman behind it has suggested.

It would be "beautiful" to end Clap for Carers after its 10th week, and make it an annual event, Annemarie Plas said.

She said the public had "shown our appreciation" and it was now up to ministers to "reward" key workers.

The government has said it is considering how best to do so.

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The event originally began as a one-off to support NHS staff on 26 March - three days after the UK went into lockdown.

However, after proving very popular, it was expanded to cover all key workers and has continued every Thursday at 20:00 BST, with people peering out of their windows or standing on their doorsteps to show their appreciation by clapping, cheering, banging saucepans and playing instruments.

Dutch-born Londoner Ms Plas, who is credited with starting the nationwide applause, told BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show that it was inspired by similar events in the Netherlands and around the world.

But she said: "Because this is the ninth time - and next week will be 10 times - I think that would be beautiful, to be the end of the series."

From that point, she said maybe it should stop and "then move to an annual moment" - noting that "other opinions" are starting to "rise to the surface".

She added: "So I feel like this had its moment and then we can adapt - let's continue to something else."

The applause has been called into question in recent weeks. Some NHS staff have said they felt "stabbed in the back" by people breaking lockdown guidelines to hold VE Day street parties or flock to the beach.

Others have suggested the NHS would benefit more from extra funding rather than applause, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said many key workers are "overlooked and underpaid".

Ms Plas said she feels that people have shown key workers their appreciation and it is now the responsibility of "the people that are in power... to reward and give them the respect they deserve".

In a later interview, she added: "Without getting too political, I share some of the opinions that some people have about it becoming politicised.

"I think the narrative is starting to change and I don't want the clap to be negative."

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On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said ministers were "thinking [about] how to recognise the work of healthcare staff, of carers, of many others".

It followed a pledge by Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week to "fight" to get nurses a "fair reward" for their work tackling the outbreak.

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