Coronavirus restrictions on funerals in Lancashire change: What you need to know

A restriction on the number of people allowed to attend funerals amid the Covid-19 outbreak appeared to be relaxed.

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 12:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 12:40 pm

Previous guidance in the county set a figure of 10 mourners for all venues to adhere to, the Lancashire Resilience Forum said.

That figure was scrapped in updated Government guidance, which said members of the dead’s household, close family (or close friends if family is unavailable), and “a celebrant of choice” can all attend – if they stay at least two metres away from each other.

Neil Shaw is the boss at Rossendale Council and is managing funerals for the forum, which was set up to coordinate local battles against the coronavirus.

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An undated file image of a coffin being carried at a funeral

He said: “We know this is a difficult time for everybody and being able to mourn loved ones is part of the healing process.

“Hopefully, this change in guidance will alleviate some of the concerns the community has around attendance at funerals, but we would like to encourage no more than 10 people [to] attend funerals on public health grounds.

“We know social distancing saves lives and mourners should also follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering. Any mourner who is showing coronavirus symptoms should not attend as they pose a risk to others.”

Last month, the family of London teen Ismail Abdulwahab, 13, who died from the disease, were forced to miss his funeral because they were self-isolating, after two of his siblings showed symptoms.

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick later said: “That is not right and it shouldn’t have happened. For clarity, funerals can go ahead with close family present.

“Social distancing measures must be respected, but families must have the opportunity to say a respectful goodbye to those they love.”

The latest Government guidance said it is important funerals are not delayed – and must be booked at the earliest opportunity to make sure funeral directors can cope with the surge in demand.

“We understand how difficult this will be for the families and friends of lost loved ones,” Public Health England said.

“However, the current guidance will be in place for the foreseeable future for the safety of the public.”

Last week, a temporary morgue was built at BAE Systems in Warton, and is able to house 1,000 corpse from across the county.

Relatives are unable to visit the facility.