The UK is marking one year since the first coronavirus lockdown, with the Queen reflecting on the “grief and loss felt by so many”.
A national minute’s silence was held at midday, which parliaments across the UK paused business to observe.
On 23 March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tough restrictions on people’s lives aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19.
Since then, the UK’s official death toll has risen from 364 to 126,172.
Johnson, who observed the silence privately, praised the “great spirit” shown since the first lockdown and offered his condolences to those who have been bereaved during the pandemic.
People are also being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 20:00 GMT with phones, candles and torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”.
The prime minister, who himself spent time in hospital seriously ill with Covid, said the last year had taken a “huge toll on us all” and that the anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on the year – “one of the most difficult in our country’s history”.
The Queen marked the anniversary by sending a bouquet of flowers to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, where her husband the Duke of Edinburgh recently had surgery for a pre-existing heart condition.
A message along with the flowers read: “As we look forward to a brighter future together, today we pause to reflect on the grief and loss that continues to be felt by so many people and families, and pay tribute to the immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year.”
Coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and deaths have all fallen in recent weeks as a result of the latest lockdown and the vaccine rollout.
But on Monday, Johnson warned that the effects of a third wave of coronavirus will “wash up on our shores” from Europe and said the country should be under “no illusion” it will feel the effect of increasing cases on the continent.