Coronavirus: 'Clap for our champions' event recognising essential workers sees huge membership growth

A nationwide clapping campaign to celebrate the hard work of New Zealand's essential workers has amassed tens of thousands of supporters, the public Facebook group growing by more than 40,000 members since Saturday.

The 'Clap for our Champions at 7pm' Facebook group urges Kiwis to stand outside their place of residence at 7pm each night and clap for one minute in appreciation for our essential workers. 

Since New Zealand's COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown was implemented on Thursday, only staff employed by essential businesses are permitted to operate from their workplace. Essential businesses include supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals and healthcare facilities. All other employees, who are able to, are required to work from home. Non-essential businesses and schools are currently closed. 

"Thank our New Zealand champions by clapping for one minute at 7pm every night. Stand [on] your driveways, doorsteps, gardens, or your balconies etc and acknowledge our health workers, supermarket staff, truckers, port workers, waste collectors, all our essential workers including our Government for doing all they can to keep Kiwis safe!" says the event's public Facebook group.

"Stay home, keep safe. Don’t forget to stay in your bubble."

The page has amassed more than 56,000 members since it was created last Wednesday. As of Saturday, the group had a membership of 15,000. Within four days, that number has almost quadrupled.  

The display of solidarity has also inspired members to come forward with their stories of unity and kindness, with one supermarket worker sharing a picture of a hand cream purchased for her by a customer.

"I had a wonderful customer come through my checkout at Pak'n Save today... we had a lovely chat... she said 'hang on I’ve forgotten something', I replied, 'go and grab whatever it is I will wait for you'," the supermarket worker shared on Tuesday.

"She came back with this lovely hand cream and said, 'this is for you, I hope you go home and relax after a nice long shower and rub this into your hands. It’s amazing'. Faith in humanity restored."

Others have used the positive environment to post shoutouts and encouraging messages, welcoming new members and sharing footage of neighbours partaking in the event. 

To join the group, there are a few simple rules that must be acknowledged:

  • "Be strong, be kind. Stay home, save lives.
  • Be kind and courteous: We're all in this together to create a welcoming environment. Let's treat everyone with respect. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required.
  • No hate speech or bullying: Make sure that everyone feels safe. Bullying of any kind isn't allowed, and degrading comments about things such as race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or identity will not be tolerated.
  • No promotions or spam: Give more to this group than you take. Self-promotion, spam and irrelevant links aren't allowed".

The important message is to just take a minute of the day, whether to clap or to reflect, and feel some gratitude for the workers keeping New Zealand running. 

During this uncertain and tumultuous time, take a minute to clap or to reflect - and feel some gratitude for those working to keep New Zealand running.