Funeral services ‘shortened to just 20 minutes’ as coronavirus deaths spike – The Sun
Restrictions on how many people can attend funerals has already sparked anger from mourners who are desperate to attend the send-off for their loved ones.
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According to the Daily Record, bosses at some crematoriums have had to draw up contigency plans to cut the length of services.
One undertaker said they were having to limit services from a maximum of 20 mourners down to two, depending on the size of the chapel.
As a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic, Wakefield Council in Leeds decided to limit funerals to 20 minutes.
The council's acting chief executive Andrew Balchin said the "difficult decision" had been made to keep mourners and staff safe during "these unprecedented times".
"It will also enable more services to take place," he said.
The news comes as deaths in the UK increased by 881 – bringing the UK total to 7,978.
Lockdown measures introduced by the Government say that although places of worship will be closed, funerals can go ahead – only to be attended by immediate family.
Social distancing must continue to be observed at the funerals to minimise the risk of transmission from mourners to key workers.
But councils across the UK are interpreting Government advice differently.
A Downing Street spokesman said families should use their “discretion” when deciding on attendees.
A council in York told grieving relatives that from Thursday, there will only be "direct cremations" meaning mourners are barred from attending funeral services.
The City of York Council's decision prompted Kelsely Dobson to launch a petition for the council to reverse its "unacceptable" decision.
She said: "Whilst we all need to careful and stay at home wherever possible to save lives and protect the NHS, government guidelines state that we can still attend funerals.
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"We are still allowed to leave our homes for the supermarket, and building sites remain open, therefore to stop families attending funerals is completely outrageous."
The petition has been signed by more than 2,000 people and has received the backing of York Central MP Rachel Maskell who said the council has "stepped way beyond" the Government's guidance.
Ms Maskell said: “Funerals provide an important role in the grieving process, and to be denied such an opportunity will cause lasting pain for families.
“At this time some people are unable to be with close family members as they die, and then not being able to be with them at their funeral is a step too far.”
York Council said it was a difficult decision but added there could be up to 14 services a day, meaning that 150 people could visit the crematorium in one day.
A Local Government Association spokesman said: “Councils are continuing to hold funerals in accordance with the latest government guidance and are making specific arrangements on a local basis to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.
“Councils aim to ensure that immediate family are able to say goodbye to their loved ones but that staff and mourners are safe, especially at a time when there may be increasing pressures on funeral services.
“We are seeking further guidance on funeral services from central government.”
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