New commission launched on how to honour victims and heroes of pandemic

A new commission on how the UK will commemorate the victims and the heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic has been launched by the Government.

Set to report back by March next year, the UK Commission on Covid Commemoration is expected to hear submissions from campaign groups and individuals on how the country should remember those who died of the virus, as well as those at the frontline of fighting Covid.

More than 200,000 deaths involving coronavirus have now been registered in the UK, according to the latest figures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously announced plans to create the commission.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson plans to co-operate with the inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Yes, it was the Prime Minister who established the inquiry and signed off on the terms of reference.”

Downing Street did not rule out adding additional members to the panel leading the inquiry.

The spokesman told reporters: “When it comes to the panel the aim and objective is to ensure it has all the requisite skills and experience necessary so we can fully establish the picture and learn the appropriate lessons.”

Former culture secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan will head up the commission, which is set to provide opportunities for the public to discuss current plans to remember the victims of the pandemic and to offer fresh suggestions.

Baroness Morgan (pictured) said: “The commission will lead a UK-wide conversation, hearing from those that lost loved ones and those that contributed so much to the UK-wide response – volunteering at vaccination centres, looking out for neighbours, and working on the frontlines of the NHS, social care and other essential services including food supply and transport.

“The pandemic touched every aspect of our lives and reached every corner of the country. The commission will hear from people across the UK to shape how we can reflect and remember this extraordinary moment in our collective history. ”

The commission is distinct from the independent Covid-19 public inquiry and it plans to send a report to the next prime minister by the end of March.

Cabinet Office minister Lord True said: “Covid-19 has had a profound impact on every aspect of our lives and every corner of the UK.

“It’s essential that everyone in the UK has the opportunity to mourn their loved ones. It is also right that we mark the extraordinary sacrifices that were made by so many.

“From the courage of frontline workers who kept us going, to the genius of those who created the life-saving vaccines, the commission will build a consensus around the measures which will be put in place to tell the story of this period in our history and remembering into the future those we lost.”

Former Labour MP Caroline Flint will be among those to sit on the commission, alongside Victoria and Albert Museum chairman Nicholas Coleridge.

According to the terms of reference for the commission, it plans to “consider how the wider story” of the pandemic should be remembered.

That will include considerations of further commemoration of the work of frontline workers, as well as remembering the “experience of those who were seriously affected” by Covid.

As well as taking inspiration from how other countries, including Commonwealth nations, are remembering the period, members will consider how to mark “the advances of British science” during the pandemic.

It will look at “what initiatives could capitalise on the way technology has been used to bring people together” and “how the national spirit through which everyone played their part should be celebrated”.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) UK Parliament.