With a crash and a bang, B.C. residents applaud health-care workers

VANCOUVER — At the same time each night, Rev. Gary Paterson and about half a dozen other neighbours have begun gathering at least two metres apart on the rooftop patio of their building in Vancouver's west end.

They don't know who will signal the beginning, and everyone's clocks are slightly different, but just before 7 p.m., they hear clapping in the distance.

article continues below

"It's usually at about two minutes to seven, like people can't restrain their enthusiasm, and then it starts to move like a wave," he said on Wednesday.

The applause is for health-care workers and other essential service providers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's a practice that became commonplace in Italy, which has recorded more deaths from the novel coronavirus than anywhere else and has now taken hold in British Columbia.

Paterson said the first few nights were quieter, but the wave has grown in strength.

"Last night was incredible. There just seems to be more and more people. People swinging open their windows and clapping and leaning out. People on balconies and somebody blowing a trumpet somewhere — just a wonderful response from the whole community," he said.

For Paterson, a United Church minister, the message is personal.

Not only is his daughter an emergency room nurse, but he went through a tough time medically last year. He had a hip replacement, emergency bowel surgery that saved his life and a colostomy reversal.

"It made me incredibly appreciative and impressed by the health-care workers from doctors and nurses to all those who kept things clean. Now I realize they're in the midst of this crisis and it doesn't stop them," he said.

"So here we are to do what we can to help."

The phenomenon is spreading.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has encouraged residents to open their windows and give a loud round of applause at 7 p.m. each night.

Fiona Burrows said she was inspired to bring the practice to her neighbourhood in New Westminster.

"I live less than a kilometre away from Royal Columbian Hospital and I have plenty of friends and neighbours in my community here who work at the hospital and I thought what a great way to show our appreciation for what they're doing," she said.

It started small on Monday, with Burrows and one other neighbour tooting horns at the stroke of 7 p.m. But thanks to the power of social media, word spread quickly.

On Tuesday, it was a completely different story, she said.

"People were out on their porches and in their yards and they were hooting and hollering and banging pots and pans and waving at each other and it was just a wonderful couple of minutes of feeling connected, even though we're in this time of social isolation."

Burrows said she plans to continue the practice until the pandemic is over.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2020.

© Kamloops This Week


KTW Daily News Alerts

Question of the Week POLL

Have you had to apply for EI or any emergency benefits offered by government, due to the pandemic’s effect on your job?

or  view results

Popular Kamloops This Week

Events Calendar

It’s time. Support your local media.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Kamloops This Week is now soliciting donations from readers. This program is designed to support our local journalism in a time where our advertisers are unable to due to their own economic constraints. Kamloops This Week has always been a free product and will continue to be free. This is a means for those who can afford to support local media to help ensure those who can’t afford to can get access to trusted local information. You can make a one-time or a monthly donation of any amount and cancel at any time.

Click on https://support.kamloopsthisweek.com for more information or to make your donation.

Thank you in advance for your support.