Royal family join national salute to NHS staff battling coronavirus pandemic

RETRANSMITTING AMENDING LOCATION People in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, join in a national applause for the NHS from their doorsteps,

The Prince of Wales joined people around the UK who briefly emerged from their homes to applaud NHS staff working on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.

Charles, who was seen for the first time since testing positive for the virus, took part in the national round of applause on Thursday night staged as a gesture of thanks to the country’s healthcare heroes.

The nationwide salute came as the UK’s coronavirus death toll passed the 500 mark and on the same day the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak unveiled a £9 billion package of support for the self-employed.

The Clap For Carers campaign saw people stand on their balconies and doorsteps to clap and cheer, while vehicles sounded their horns at 8pm.

A video posted on the Kensingtonroyal Instagram account showed Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis clapping to thank healthcare staff “working tirelessly” to help those affected by Covid-19.

Clarence House posted a video on Instagram Stories of the children’s grandfather Prince Charles joining in with the round of applause from Birkhall.

The prince, who appeared to be indoors, clapped along. He was smartly dressed in an open necked shirt and jacket with a handkerchief in his pocket.

There was also footage of Camilla, who is isolating from Charles because she does not have the Covid-19 illness, clapping separately as she looked out of an open window.

At the same time, landmarks including Belfast City Hall, Principality Stadium in Cardiff and the London Eye were lit up as part of the #lightitblue salute.

A tweet from the NHS account said: “That was emotional.”

The national gesture came a few hours after NHS England said a further 107 people in England who tested positive for coronavirus have died, bringing the number of reported confirmed deaths in England to 521.

The Department of Health announced a total of 578 people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK have died as of 5pm on March 25.

Earlier, Mr Sunak unveiled a package of support which which will see the Government give millions of self-employed people a grant worth up to £2,500 a month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister Boris Johnson applauding outside 10 Downing Street in a gesture of thanks to the hardworking NHS staff Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Mr Sunak said the scheme which will be open for at least three months, will cover 80% of a self-employed person’s average monthly profits.

But it may not be available until June and will only be available to those who have a tax return for 2019, meaning the newly self-employed will be ineligible.

And Mr Sunak warned that the self-employed could face tax hikes in the future as part of the effort to “right the ship” and repair the battered public finances after the coronavirus crisis is over.

Mr Sunak’s scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.

Up to 3.8 million people will qualify for support, with average monthly payments expected to be £940 per person.

He said the measure covers 95% of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment.

But in a hint that the self-employed could be asked to pay more to the taxman in future he said it was “now much harder to justify” the tax breaks on offer to the self-employed if they were receiving the same level of state support.

He said everyone would be “chipping in together to right the ship afterwards” once the crisis is over.

A number of self-employed workers welcomed the Chancellor’s measures but expressed concern about having to wait until June to claim.