By Tony Winterburn • 27 September 2020 • 9:32
Government Ministers have been warned that Poppy Day parades all across the UK are at risk of being cancelled due to lack of any coronavirus guidelines.
Parade day organisers said they have been left “high and dry” as the Government has failed to issue them any guidelines on COVID safety rules.
Wreath-laying organisers say ceremonies in villages, towns and cities across the country are now in doubt because they have received no official guidance. Labour has urged Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to step in and ensure our fallen heroes are remembered on November 8. Many groups are desperate for advice on how to observe social-distancing rules but draw a blank every time and receive no response.
Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said it was important to ensure a march-past by elderly people was carried out within the guidelines. But he claims there is so little information that some organisers may have to cancel. He accused Mr Wallace of “passing the buck” when he assured him last week that he was working on a plan with the Culture Department. Mr Healey added: “They have washed their hands of any concern about local Remembrance events and say their only concern in the parade in Whitehall.
The Royal British Legion has a large contingency in Spain of course, with the COVID restrictions in place it remains to be seen just how they plan to celebrate this important anniversary.
Response from The Royal British Legion
During the coronavirus outbreak the health and well-being of the people we support, our staff, members, and volunteers is and will remain, our priority.
Our services are still available, and we are working with partners and other organisations to support communities across the UK. Based on Government advice, we have made some changes to ensure we continue to support and protect our community as best we can.
A town’s annual Remembrance Day parade – usually made up of 500 people with around 2,000 spectators – has been limited to just five people with those wanting to observe and show their respects are being asked to stay at home. The ceremony through Broad and High Street in March will be stripped back “to the absolute minimum” this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A risk assessment, a copy of which was sent to this newspaper, reveals even the bugler player must stay at least 20 metres away from anyone else – while not facing them too – in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19. In a letter to councillors, Major Nigel Spencer, parade marshal, said: “Forgive the mass email but I simply haven’t got the time or ability to email you all individually.” The organisation of the March Town Remembrance Parade involves nearly 200 main players such is the size of the Remembrance events within March.
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