LONDON — Paula Smith couldn’t hold back her tears as she faced a sea of hand-painted red hearts covering a wall along the River Thames, each unique, each representing someone who died of Covid-19 in Britain.
With the tears welling in her eyes, Ms. Smith got back to work painting dozens more hearts on the memorial wall as passers-by stopped to watch. One heart was larger than the others, and on it she wrote in black letters: “Frank Stevens 1941–2020” — a tribute to her 78-year-old father, who died last April.
“Look at how many people we’ve lost,” said Ms. Smith, 49, who was wearing a vest that read The National Covid Memorial Wall, as she took a step back to look at her work, sobbing behind her protective mask. “We keep talking about numbers, but each heart is a person.”
As European countries crossed the one-year anniversary of the first coronavirus deaths and lockdown restrictions in recent weeks, memorials have sprung up across the continent to pay tribute to those lost to Covid-19.
studied how people have paid tribute to those lost to Covid-19.
Mr. Johnson has promised a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic, and opposition politicians have called for it to start as soon as lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted in coming weeks. But Mr. Johnson has refused to set a date.
At the memorial, several volunteers expressed anger at the government’s response to the pandemic. Ms. Rumball, who lost her grandmother, said she had felt ignored by Mr. Johnson’s government. Her mother painted hearts next to her in silence.