Attending funerals during coronavirus crisis 'a postcode lottery' say families

Families mourning the death of loved ones say it's a postcode lottery when it comes to being allowed to attend funeral services.

During the coronavirus crisis, government guidelines say mourners must observe social distancing with a maximum of 10 people allowed inside chapels. However, some councils are going further than that and banning entry altogether.

In York, Kelsey Dobson started a campaign to overturn that ruling and managed to secure a compromise.

After York Council banned entry to its crematoria altogether, she started a petition calling on the Council to allow a family funeral for her uncle.

Her petition has been signed more than 4,000 times.

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"Now they're allowing up to 10 mourners to be outside the crematorium and they can now sit under a marquee have the service play the music their loved one would have wanted and the commital of the body can actually happen outside. It's a huge part of the grieving process that it shouldn't be up for debate whether immediate family members can go and say goodbye. So I hope that the petition and the awareness that it's raised in York I hope that really starts to carry on to other areas so that other families get to say goodbye as well."

Kelsey Dobson

York Council says its policy of "closed cremations" will continue.

"We fully recognise the impact that this decision will have on bereaved families but ultimately, it has been taken protect everyone concerned, including families and their loved ones. This exceptional decision has been taken to limit the spread of coronavirus and therefore, protect the public, the city's funeral directors and our bereavement services staff."

Cllr Keith Aspden, City of York Council
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Policy on funerals still varies around the region. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP has written to all councils urging them to allow close family to attend funerals in person in line with social distancing guidelines. He added: "We will continue to work closely with councils to ensure that safe and sensitive measures are put in place all across the country."

Rachael Maskell, the Labour MP for York Central, is urging councils to "apply more common sense" in this situation.

"I'm urging the council now to apply more common sense. They've given their reasons for doing this but I believe more logistical planning can be put in place to make sure people have the time they need as the last moment they're going to share as a family respecting social distancing, making sure staff are safe but ensuring families as well are able to have that one moment in order to say goodbye."

Rachael Maskell MP, Labour, York Central
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