The national commemoration events to mark VE Day 75 will be scaled back due to the ongoing spread of coronavirus.
In line with the latest expert medical and scientific advice from Public Health England and guidance on mass gatherings, the UK Government has announced plans to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe will be changed. As part of the new plans, the veterans’ procession down the Mall and the events in St James’s Park will no longer go ahead. This is in order to protect the health and wellbeing of the Second World War generation and members of the public.
The UK Government and the Devolved Administrations are working on new plans to ensure the public can still thank the Second World War generation on VE Day in May and provide the fitting tribute they deserve.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
It is with a very heavy heart that we have to scale back our VE Day commemorations. Veterans always have and will be at the centre of our plans and our key priority right now is to protect their health and wellbeing.
In these unprecedented circumstances I hope that the public will understand why we have made this difficult decision and I hope they will join us in saying thank you to the generation who gave so much on May 8th. We will ensure that we mark this important event and will provide an update on plans shortly.
The Government wants to ensure that the British public has the opportunity to thank the Second World War generation. The revised plans on how the nation can mark the occasion will be made public in due course. Events in Scotland to mark 75 years since VE Day on 8 May, which included a parade and concert in Edinburgh, are also being rescheduled, owing to the coronavirus outbreak.
Scottish Government Veterans Minister Graeme Dey said:
I regret that we are having to reschedule these events, a decision which has been taken in line with official advice on large gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak.
Communities and, most importantly, veterans will have the opportunity to join events at a later date to pay tribute to the sacrifices of those from the Allied and Commonwealth nations. We will provide details of these in due course.
In Wales, postponed events include a drumhead service and military parade in Cardiff Bay and a National Service of Thanksgiving at Llandaff Cathedral.
Welsh Government Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James said:
It is with regret that events to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day in Wales have had to be postponed due to the outbreak of coronavirus in Wales. The decision is in line with the current public health guidance on mass gatherings and the wellbeing of veterans and the public. The Welsh Government will mark the occasion in a way that is appropriate to the current circumstances. The Government is also continuing to plan to mark VJ Day 75 on 15 August, to commemorate Victory Over Japan and the end of the Second World War. These plans will take into account the public health guidance in place at the time.