The sound of the country applauding has rung out one final time as Britain holds a special Clap for Carers.
People stopped what they were doing to put their hands together in the streets for those working on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.
And many spilled out into doorways and windows and balconies at 5pm to clap for NHS heroes as Britain’s death toll tops 44,000.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the country in the first national show of gratitude since Brits largely confined to their homes under much stricter lockdowns held the final weekly clap months ago.
What became a national tradition ended after ten weeks on May 28.
Today’s one-off final tribute was organised to coincide with the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the NHS by Labour’s Nye Bevan.
Popstar Rita Ora was among the celebrities urging people to join in the clap, as she thanked her NHS worker mum and wished the health service happy birthday in a heartfelt tweet.
In a mark of the times, People in England have been able to clap from their perches at pubs and outside shops at 5pm tonight.
Broadcasters suspended normal transmissions to show scenes a far cry from the final Thursday clap months ago.
The sounds of clapping and people banging pots and pans echoed through neighbourhoods as people’s lives back then remained largely homebound at the peak of the coronavirus threat.
This afternoon, much of the UK is beginning to inch closer to a semblance of normality.
More shops and pubs and eateries open in England following the July 4 lockdown easing, and Brits are able to fly abroad for summer holidays as travel restrictions ease.
But people in Leicester will be feeling déjà vu, as they must applaud from their homes once again while the city remains thrust back under a local lockdown again due to a virus outbreak.
Elsewhere, sports fixtures are back, with players in all Premier League and Championship matches pausing to clap before kick-off this evening.
At 5pm recorded applause will echo round the grounds of the games still being played without spectators as a precaution.
The clap was stopped after ten weeks amid concerns what started as a grassroots movement to show gratitude for carers and key workres was becoming politicised.
Today’s nationwide clap coinciding with the NHS milestone was organised following a letter from the Together coalition
Influential figures including NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby voiced their support for making July 5 an official day of commemoration.
Sir Simon said he hoped the public will use the anniversary as an opportunity to “say a heartfelt thank you” to hospital staff.
The weekend of public tributes began with landmarks around the UK lit up blue to mark the NHS’ birthday.
On Saturday, people lit candles and held a minute’s silence in remembrance of those who have lost their lives in the pandemic.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the public to clap for “those who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to help the nation get through this pandemic”.
Tonight he was joined by Clap for Carers founder Annemarie Plas to lead the nation in applause outside Downing Street.
Sir Keir said the health service had a personal resonance for him as his late mother was a nurse and later relied on the NHS as she became ill.
He said: “Many, many times she got gravely ill and it was the NHS that she turned to, and I remember as a boy, a teenager, being in high dependency units, in intensive care units, with my mum, watching nurses and other support staff keep my mum alive.
“They did that on more than one occasion – it’s etched in my memory. For them, it was just the day job. They were doing that every day.
“So, it’s very personal for me and I’m very grateful to the NHS and my mum was very grateful, she loved the NHS through the many decades that she absolutely depended on them.”
The Prince of Wales said: “The current pandemic means that the NHS – and the entire country – has been through the most testing time in the service’s history.
“Our remarkably selfless nurses, doctors, paramedics and countless other staff have made costly sacrifices to provide treatment for more than a hundred thousand patients with coronavirus and thousands more who needed other care.
“And, in tribute to them, we have come together as a nation to thank them for their skill, professionalism and dedication.”