News Coronavirus COVID risk looms large as Londoners ignore social distancing to mourn Philip Philip outside Buckingham Palace
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COVID risk looms large as Londoners ignore social distancing to mourn Philip Philip outside Buckingham Palace

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The COVID pandemic has put a dampener on Londoner’s grieving the loss of the Duke Edinburgh, with Buckingham palace officials removing a framed plaque they had earlier placed on the gates announcing his death.

The removal came after visitors were gathering in a knot to view the plaque, placing them in violation of coronavirus social distancing regulations.

Members of the public were told to wear masks and line up behind a barrier to view the sign in the hour before it was removed.

Maximilien Roesner, 24, who works for a manufacturer of medical equipment and PPE in London, said he was “absolutely saddened” to hear about Philip’s death, but added the crowd at the palace gates “shows what the monarchy really means to people”.

Mr Roesner, who laid a large bouquet of red roses beside the front gates, said: “I’m absolutely saddened, I think he was a true inspiration not only to his generation, but to our generation, to my generation, and it is a very sad day.

“He lived a life dedicated to service to the United Kingdom, and I think he is one the strongest men and a truly inspirational person.”

Observing social distancing outside the palace, difficult as it became as Londoners arrived to lay floral tributes and share their grief, is nothing in comparison with the job confronting Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has announced she will be imposing federal control of the federation’s states.

People gather around the Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace in tribute to Prince Philip. Photo: Slipa USA

The move comes as Germany struggles to curb a third wave of the pandemic, with the federal government planning to introduce draft legislation next week, she said.

A source had told Reuters earlier that this will include compulsory measures in regions with 100 or more new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over seven days.

At a seven-day incidence below 100, the states will retain control over measures to slow the spread of the virus.

The figure reached a high near 200 in late December, soon after Germany went from a “lockdown lite” that started in early November, during which schools and stores were open, to a full shutdown.

It last stood at 110.4, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.