Coronavirus: Further changes to funerals

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.
Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

Further alterations to Leeds City Council cemeteries and crematoria service have been announced today.

As part of steps to manage the impact of Coronavirus, and taking into account national guidance relating to social distancing, the council will impose restrictions from Thursday, March 26.

The number of mourners who will be allowed at an already arranged chapel funeral service, and at burials and graveside services will be restricted as follows:

Up to 10 mourners can now only be present per chapel.

Up to 20 mourners at burial and graveside services.

Mourners should respect the two metre social distance rule at the graveside if wishing to backfill the grave. Both mourners and funeral directors must remain two metres away from council grave digging staff.

The funeral director or family must also bring their own spades for the backfilling of a grave.

If mourners do not respect the social distancing rules when asked, the council may need to consider withdrawing mourner participation at the graveside and council staff will backfill the grave only when mourners are a safe distance away.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for environment and active lifestyles, said: “We are continuing to monitor all of the guidance regarding Coronavirus very closely, and in what is very unprecedented times, we are having to make extremely difficult decisions in terms of the services we provide to ensure that the health and well-being of the public, council staff and partners and stakeholders we work closely with, is protected.

“With that in mind we will be introducing a number of further changes to the cemeteries and crematoria services provided by the council from March 26 in terms of numbers that can attend a pre-booked chapel funeral service or burial or graveside service, and information around backfilling of graves.

“We have updated funeral directors regarding these latest alterations, and will continue to keep the public fully informed of any further service changes.”

Following guidance issued last week, the council will no longer be taking any new bookings for chapel funeral services.

Any further bookings will be undertaken as ‘Direct Cremation Services’ only. A ‘Direct Cremation’ is a funeral which is not attended by mourners and has no service.

In relation to burials, and the provision of ‘graveside services’, these burials can be booked and continue to go ahead as normal with the restrictions outlined above in terms of number of mourners and backfilling of grave.

The elderly and anyone with underlying health conditions and pregnant women are particularly encouraged to pay attention to current government guidance and to consider not attending a chapel service or burial or graveside service.

For further information relating to government advice regarding social distancing, please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

To find out about previous changes made to the council’s cemeteries and crematoria service due to the Coronavirus which were introduced last week, please see: http://news.leeds.gov.uk/important-update---leeds-city-council-funeral-chapel-services---burials-and-cremations/

Updates will also be available via the council’s webpage and via funeral directors including details of advice regarding mourner participation at burials: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/births-deaths-and-marriages/death/bereavement-services