The weekly ‘Clap for Carers’ should end this week before it gets too “politicised”, the founder of the initiative has suggested.
But the ritual has been criticised by some for becoming too political, while others, including NHS staff, have said some people who take part in the clap then wilfully ignore the plea to stay at home and avoid gatherings in an effort to ease the strain on the healthcare system.
Annemarie Plas, a Dutch national living in south London, said that while she was "overwhelmed" by the support for the ritual she helped start, she believes it should come to an end after 10 weeks.
Explaining her reasons, she told Sky News: "I think that Clap for Carers was maybe used with other intentions than what I started it with.
"My idea was to show appreciation and to connect the communities, whilst we did that, and that is something for us, as it was really important to a nation, I felt that some people might have used it for other reasons than that.”
Plas, from Streatham, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain she will clap on Thursday evening, and will return outside at the same time next week to “check in” with her community, without applauding.
She said: “For everybody who wants to continue I think they should, but for me I think it’s good to see how we can see that positivity delivered to the next level, which can be an annual moment and also to embrace the community still at 8pm.
“For me, next Thursday I will go out to see who is out there and check in with my community – we are still in this crisis, but I think there are other initiatives we can support which show our gratitude.”
The suggestion to end it has also been backed by others, including actor Ralf Little, who tweeted: “I’m not going to be clapping for the NHS this week. Instead I’ll continue to march for it, protest for it, advocate for it, stay at home for it, and most importantly, vote for those who actually support it.
“Not judging those who want to clap, but I’m out.”
There is also support to keep the tradition going:
Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, a GP registrar, added: “I think we've kind of hit the point where we know that the community is behind us, we know that society is behind us and actually what we now need to be doing moving forwards is how we better support carers and NHS workers in practical terms.”
The weekly round of applause has seen throngs of people gather in their gardens, balconies and on street corners, sometimes playing instruments or bashing pots and pans to create a visual and audible show of support.
It has also seen members of the royal family, the prime minister and celebrities join in.
But it has also divided opinion between some who feel empowered and encouraged by the gesture, and others who feel it is patronising.
Mother-of-one Plas said: "A clap is something normal people can do, showing our appreciation.
"But the power is not with us. We can give them respect but we are not signing the cheque – that falls on another desk.”
Watch the latest videos from Yahoo UK’s ‘Up Close and Socially Distant’
She suggested resurrecting the clap in 2021 to mark a year since the coronavirus outbreak.
She said: "Stopping clapping doesn't mean we are not still appreciating them. Some people will still want to carry on, so they should.
"But we will stop and show our support in other ways – there are other initiatives we can support.”