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.

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

Just Posted

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate facing penalty; details of Quarantine Act still being worked out

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

CVRD cancels all recreation and theatre programs through end of April

Community centre and recreation programs cancelled through end of April

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Long list of events disrupted by COVID-19 around the community

Challenging situation affecting fundraisers, entertainment, sports and more

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read