Boris Johnson has backed plans for a coronavirus memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral and will establish a new commission on Covid commemoration to mark the sacrifices of millions across the country.
The Prime Minister said it is important to tell “the whole story of this era in our history”, remembering the thousands who have died but also celebrating those who helped the country get through the crisis.
He told MPs there is a “solemn duty” on the whole United Kingdom to “come together and cherish the memories of all those who have been lost”.
More than 127,600 people are recorded to have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, although separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show the disease was mentioned on the death certificates of around 152,000.
Mr Johnson said in the House of Commons: “Like many across this Chamber, I was deeply moved when I visited the Covid Memorial Wall opposite Parliament, and I wholeheartedly support the plan for a memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral, which will provide a fitting place of reflection in the heart of our capital.
“I also know that communities across our whole country will want to find ways of commemorating what we have all been through.
“So the Government will support their efforts by establishing a UK Commission on Covid Commemoration.
“This national endeavour – above party politics – will remember the loved ones we have lost; honour the heroism of those who saved lives and the courage of frontline workers who kept our country going; celebrate the genius of those who created the vaccines; and commemorate the small acts of kindness and the daily sacrifice of millions who stayed at home, buying time for our scientists to come to our rescue.”
Mr Johnson promised to work with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the plans “to preserve the spirit which has sustained us in the gravest crisis since the Second World War”.