A UK city council has said all funerals must now be ‘cremation only’ with no mourners allowed in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Leeds council has taken unprecedented measures to restrict funeral arrangements as the UK battles the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a total of 3,983 cases and 177 deaths.
Starting with immediate effect from today, any new services booked in Leeds will be undertaken as ‘Direct Cremation Services’ only.
A direct cremation is a funeral which is not attended by mourners and has no service.
The council is enforcing the rule as part of the government’s social distancing guidelines to manage the impact of the virus.
From immediate effect, no new bookings will be taken for chapel funeral services - but previously booked services will go ahead as planned.
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Burials and graveside services are permitted to go ahead as planned.
The council also stressed that the elderly, anyone with underlying health conditions and pregnant women are urged not to attend services as detailed in recent government guidelines.
It added it would work with funeral directors to make sure those affected by coronavirus will be “able to pay their respects to loved ones who have passed away”.
Councillor Mohammed Rafique said of the measures: "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 have from today introduced a number of changes to the cemeteries and crematoria services provided by the council.
“We fully recognise that these changes may have an impact on some services for families of loved ones and we apologise for any discomfort or distress this may cause.
"It is extremely important that we consider fully the health of all those attending and staff, and please be assured we are continuing to monitor how we continue to deliver our cemeteries and crematoria services, and will make changes as appropriate.”