Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday events in South Tyneside cancelled - virtual events to take place online instead
November usually sees events held across the borough – including parades and services – to commemorate the sacrifices of army, navy and RAF personnel in the first and second world wars, as well as other conflicts.
But town hall chiefs have instead urged families to pay their respects at home in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Norman Dick, the Mayor of South Tyneside and an armed forces veteran, said: “We are extremely proud of our armed forces past and present and always place our veterans and military personnel at the heart of our commemorations.
“Sadly, it is simply not possible to deliver our traditional remembrance events in line with current government COVID safety guidance.
“We understand many people will be disappointed, but the safety of our residents, visitors, military personnel, veterans and their families, are our main priority right now.
“They must be protected, particularly at this crucial stage in the pandemic.”
Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day will be marked in South Tyneside with flags flying at half-mast over South Shields Town Hall, which will also be lit red.
A virtual service and short films featuring community and armed forces representatives and wreaths being laid at borough war memorials, will be streamed on South Tyneside Council’s social media pages.
The latest government guidance has given local authorities permission to hold Remembrance Day ceremonies, but only if they comply with existing rules on the holding of outdoor events.
Ministers have recommended any commemorations should be ‘short and focused on wreath laying’, with numbers kept to a minimum.
While, under current rules, the public would be legally allowed and watch such an event as spectators, they must observe the rule of six and social distancing rules.
Ed Malcolm, chairman of South Tyneside Armed Forces Forum, said: “Despite the very difficult circumstances we all find ourselves in, it is only right that we continue to pay our respects on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, albeit in a different way.
“Remembrance is one of the most important and poignant events in the South Tyneside calendar as we honour all those who served their country and made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
“As a borough we can still unite to remember the fallen and give thanks to our veterans and those in active service.
“We hope that people will join us in our online commemorations and observe the two-minute silence in tribute to our armed forces heroes.”