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Tonight’s Clap for Carers event may be the last, after the woman behind the idea said she will no longer take part.

Since lockdown was announced on March 23, the weekly event has been a gesture to thank all doctors, nurses, pharmacists, GPs and NHS staff working hard to help those affected by Covid-19 “during these unprecedented times”.

Millions of people across the UK have lined their thresholds, gathered – while socially distancing – on pavements, and stood in their gardens at 8pm every Thursday to demonstrate their support for care staff and frontline workers.

However, as lockdown measures begin to ease, and with the introduction of the government’s track and trace app, the weekly applause could be coming to and end. Here’s why…

When did it begin?

Annemarie Plas, a Dutch yoga teacher living in Streatham, south London, launched the initiative in March to show appreciation for NHS workers and carers fighting the pandemic on the frontline.

She shared a post on Instagram urging people to “clap for carers”, then the message was shared thousands of times across social media

Since the first event on March 26, millions of people across the UK have taken to their open windows, balconies, gardens and streets at 8pm each Thursday – clapping, cheering, playing instruments and even banging pots to express their appreciation.

The Prime Minister, members of the royal family and celebrities have all taken part.

Ms Plas has stressed that the campaign is not just for NHS staff, but for pharmacists, dentists, supermarket workers and other essential workers on the frontline.

Why is tonight the final Clap for Our Carers?

Ms Plas, 36, last week told the PA news agency she has no problem with people continuing to gather at 8pm each week to clap, but said she will not be among those taking part in future.

She said: “To have the most impact I think it is good to stop it at its peak.

Annemarie Plas

“Without getting too political, I share some of the opinions that some people have about it becoming politicised.

“I think the narrative is starting to change and I don’t want the clap to be negative.”

Recently healthcare workers and members of the public have criticised the weekly applause, saying it permits the government to be seen appreciating frontline health and care staff, despite furore over lack of PPE for NHS workers.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Ms Plas said she will clap this Thursday evening, and will return outside at the same time next week to “check in” with her community, without applauding.

Ms Plas explained: “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 36-year-old, mother of one intends to spend the next few months establishing a charity inspired by Clap for our Carers, which will fundraise for projects encouraging community cohesion. ​

She said: “Stopping clapping doesn’t mean we are not still appreciating them. Some people will still want to carry on, so they should.

“That effect we created we did all together. That is the narrative I want to hold onto.”