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

People are seen clapping on their balconies in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Thousands of people in Vancouver’s west end have been going out on their balconies to applaud the front line heath care workers each night at 7pm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
People are seen clapping on their balconies in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Thousands of people in Vancouver’s west end have been going out on their balconies to applaud the front line heath care workers each night at 7pm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Reverend Gary Paterson, right, and his partner Tim Stevenson clap and beat on a pot with a wooden spoon as part of a tribute to health care workers in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Thousands of people in Vancouver’s west end have been going out on their balconies to applaud the front line heath care workers each night at 7pm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A man in an apartment window applauds in support of healthcare workers, along with many others applauding and making noise in windows and on balconies at 7 p.m. in Vancouver’s West End, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Organizers have used social media to coordinate the nightly event to show support for front-line healthcare workers who are helping fight the coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck A man in an apartment window applauds in support of healthcare workers, along with many others applauding and making noise in windows and on balconies at 7 p.m. in Vancouver’s West End, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Organizers have used social media to coordinate the nightly event to show support for front-line healthcare workers who are helping fight the coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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.

“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. The virus itself has killed 14 people in B.C., and 659 people have so far been confirmed to have it.

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.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID19: 94th Williams Lake Stampede officially cancelled for 2020 due to pandemic

Stampede directors hope to host a community event in the fall if possible

‘It’s job No. 1 right now’: B.C.’s Harmac Pacific providing pulp for critical medical supplies

Bryan Reid Sr. of Williams Lake said they received a call of thanks from Canada’s Chrystia Freeland

All BC Parks closing in response to COVID-19

This temporary measure means people should not be going to provincial parks until further notice

Northern Sea Wolf service suspended for 2020; Nimpkish to serve route

The decision to suspend the route comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C. First Nations Health Authority launches virtual doctor program

Program to provide primary health care through COVID-19 pandemic

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

Statistics Canada report looks at COVID-19’s impact on violence in the family

Police across Canada reported almost 100,000 cases of intimate partner violence in 2018

132,000 B.C. jobs lost just the start of COVID-19 impact, finance minister says

Finance Minister Carole James says ‘this isn’t the entire picture’

Most Read