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'We can't say our goodbyes the way we wanted to': Covid-19 funeral restrictions

Some funeral venues are now banning all mourners, while others have imposed strict restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak, ITV News research shows.

Certain venues, including Cheltenham and Belfast's crematoria, won't allow any mourners inside chapels.

Many councils including Greenwich, Birmingham and Cardiff are drastically reducing attendees - with Greenwich specifying as few as five mourners.

Medway Crematorium instruct mourners "not to touch or kiss the coffin", while in Eltham it is prohibited to "place flowers on the coffin".

Mourners social distance during a funeral service in Bristol. Credit: PA

Official guidelines say only household members or close family should attend. In Northern Ireland there's a six-person limit for funerals.

One funeral director, John Barsby, told us: "Family members have been turned away and its made an acutely emotional time even worse.

"We have families that are in the crematorium knowing their loved ones are outside and can't attend."

Haji Mohammad Rafique died with coronavirus, cherished after years of dedication to his local community in Derby.

Haji's brother-in-law, Shokat Lal, told us: "Only 10 people can go to the burial and people have been absolutely devastated.

"I've had people crying on the phone inconsolable. The biggest tragedy in all of this is that when it was his time the community could not come together for him, like he came together for other people."

A coffin is carried to a grave by men in protective clothing. Credit: PA

Although Bill Burrell didn't die with coronavirus, his funeral too shows what many bereaved now face.

When I met Bill's daughter, Sabrina Marley, in Plymouth she told me: "We can't have the wake with all his friends and family and we can't say our goodbyes the way we wanted to.

"I will be going into a funeral ceremony with four other people."

With social distancing rules in place she cannot comfort her mother.

"You can't replace a hug and a shoulder to cry on with talking down the telephone ... I just want to be able to give my mum and my brother a hug."

As we now distance from those who most need our comfort, people in the agony of grief are denied the most human aspects of consolation.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know