Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are cheering people up this Christmas Eve by ringing bells to combat loneliness due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The initiative, called “Christmas Eve Jingle,” was launched by Mary Beggs-Reid in October to give her Harrogate, northern England community a chance to celebrate the holidays together despite measures taken to combat the spread of the pandemic .
Beggs-Reid told her neighborhood to get off at 6 p.m. local time to ring bells together for two minutes. She also invited people to give a few bells to their neighbors, who are likely alone, so they can attend too.
“We can’t be together physically, but we can ring the bell together! A chance for us to feel connected and have a happy memory of 2020,” she wrote on the event’s Facebook page.
Your idea has traveled widely and nearly 500,000 people from around the world have now signed up to take part.
People in Australia and New Zealand have already posted videos and pictures of their participating families.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to get out tonight to ring bells after calling Beggs-Reid to praise her for the initiative.
The UK is one of the hardest hit countries in the world, with nearly 70,000 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 2.1 million confirmed infections.
Originally, the UK was supposed to ease restrictions over Christmas to allow families to gather. However, they were tightened on Saturday.
England has been working under a tiered system since the beginning of December to address the spread of the pandemic at the local level.
Much of the country has been subject to the toughest two restrictions since then, but authorities put in a new tier, Tier 4, which was rolled out last weekend in areas where the virus was particularly widespread, such as the capital.
People in London, the South East and East of England are therefore expected to stay at home and limit indoor socializing to only their household and outdoor gatherings to only one person from another household.