Remembrance Sunday services can go ahead despite new Covid lockdown

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

Speaking during defence questions, he told the Commons: “This is a very important time of year for the country, and 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.”

On Saturday November 7, Huw Edwards will present the BBC’s coverage of The Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance from the Royal Albert Hall in London. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will give tributes recognising the contribution of the Armed Forces as well as the nursing profession. 

The following morning, David Dimbleby will present coverage live from the Cenotaph. Speaking to the Radio Times, Mr Dimbleby said: “I don’t think the event will be diminished in any way. It will symbolise the fact that everybody is making sacrifices now because of Covid. In a way it will make it more poignant – people will be more aware of what loss and separation mean.

“I think it would have been incredibly irresponsible to encourage people, many of them elderly, to travel to London.”

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. 

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 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 the First Minister, 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.

A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said: “Since Covid-19 measures first came into effect, the Royal British Legion has instructed our branches that all activity undertaken by our members must be conducted in accordance with national and local Government guidelines. 

“We are encouraging our branches and members to continue supporting local Remembrance services and parades that follow Government guidelines and only where social distancing measures can be fully adhered to.”

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