Public urged to mark Remembrance Sunday from home this year

Thousands of people normally line the streets of Whitehall for the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph.

Remembrance Sunday
Remembrance Sunday

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer has said Remembrance Sunday will be “a little bit different” this year, as members of the public are urged to mark the event from home due to the coronavirus crisis.

Former Army officer Mr Mercer said everything would be done to commemorate the fallen in the “correct way”, but added that the pandemic was a “really good opportunity” for people to remember in their own home.

The public have been asked to stay away from this year’s National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph, which typically sees thousands of people line the streets through Whitehall to pay their respects, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

VE Day 75th anniversary
Veterans minister Johnny Mercer (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“What we’re trying to do is deal with this pandemic at the moment and deal with it in the most sensible way,” Mr Mercer told Times Radio.

“Now you saw how we celebrated VE Day and VJ Day and things like that this year, using social distancing and adjusting to the pandemic and actually, it’s a really good opportunity for people to remember in their own homes and take a bit of time just to do things a little bit differently.

“We are going to do everything we can to remember Remembrance Sunday in the correct way.

“This nation seems to always get it right in this regard and this year, it’s just going to be a little bit different. I think people understand that and cope with it.”

A limited number of people – including armed forces veterans, members of the royal family, and international leaders – will be permitted to attend the service at the Cenotaph on November 8.

It will be the first time in the Cenotaph’s 100-year history that the traditional 11am service will be closed off to members of the public, who are instead asked to mark the event from home.

Meanwhile, the National Memorial Arboretum said it would mark Remembrance Sunday by broadcasting a “virtual Act of Remembrance” on Facebook and YouTube.

Visitors who have pre-booked for the morning of November 8 will have the option to watch the event in person from the base of the Armed Forces Memorial.

According to Government guidance, England’s three-tier alert level system provides an exemption for Remembrance Sunday events, provided precautions are taken by the event organiser.

Veterans and members of the armed forces will be able to attend as participants, as will people attending as part of their work or in a voluntary capacity on behalf of a recognised organisation.

Members of the public will be legally permitted to stop and watch as spectators, but event organisers should take reasonable steps to ensure they attend alone or follow the rule of six and social distancing rules, guidance adds.

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