POLICE and hospital bosses have urged well-wishers taking part in the weekly ‘Clap For Carers’ event to remember social distancing guidelines – after an estimated 200 people descended on Barnsley Hospital.
The national spectacle – which has seen residents clap from their windows and doors at 8pm every Thursday – ended with criticism in Barnsley after crowds flocked to the hospital’s car park in what witnesses said were ‘festival-like’ scenes.
A live video shared on the Chronicle’s Facebook page highlighted the cramped conditions at the organised event, and attracted thousands of comments from people concerned about a lack of social distancing.
The Chronicle understands some members of the public mixed with off-duty NHS workers, as well as Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes representatives and emergency services.
However, well-wishers – who have been thanked for their continued support by hospital bosses – have been told to stay away from the site unless they are already there and respect social distancing measures.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “As a force we stand united with the public in our appreciation for the fantastic work our health service, key workers and emergency services colleagues are doing on a daily basis.
“We are aware that on April 16, some members of the public joined members of the emergency services for the ‘Clap for Carers’ celebration outside Barnsley Hospital.
“While the support is so very much appreciated by all, we have a duty to protect you and remind you of the risks associated with attending events and gatherings at this time.
“Our officers, like other key workers, are often having to operate in close proximity in order to serve and protect the public.
“The force is working hard to ensure officers are practising social distancing where appropriate and that measures are in place to protect them as they continue with their daily work, protecting you.
“Our officers will continue to show support for our emergency services colleagues, but will do so by joining you, in your communities, to share what has become a significant moment for so many people.”
Bob Kirton, chief operating officer and deputy chief executive of Barnsley Hospital, said: “The weekly Clap For Carers means an immense amount to our staff working on the frontline to support patients in our hospital.
“While we at Barnsley Hospital greatly appreciate the overwhelmingly positive support, we urge people to observe the essential social distancing measures in place and ensure this is practiced effectively on our hospital site.
“The fact that people want to come to Barnsley Hospital to show their support by clapping our staff is incredible but we must ask that for the continued safety of our staff and our patients, unless you are already at the hospital, please don’t attend the site to participate.
“We would love to receive examples of people participating in Clap for Carers which we can directly share with our hard-working staff. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
“As a reminder, please only go outside to exercise one a day, for food, medicines and health reasons or for work, but only if you cannot work from home.
“If you do go out, please stay two metres away from other people at all times. You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms.”