This is how coronavirus restrictions are changing funerals in Harrogate
New advice on how funerals can be held during Harrogate's lockdown has been issued to the borough council.
Public Health England (PHE) said its refreshed guidance, drawn up in conjunction with ethicists and faith leaders, aims to ensure that mourners are treated with respect and people are protected from the risk of infection.
While some heavy-handed councils have been criticised for banning all mourners from services, Harrogate Borough Council has allowed immediate family only to attend ceremonies at its 11 open cemeteries and Stonefall crematorium site.
Now, the new PHE guidance has set out where other exceptions can be made to allow families and friends to say goodbye to loved ones, including those who are self-isolating or who have been defined as extremely clinically vulnerable.
The advice includes:
- those who have symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19 must not attend and must stay at home
- limiting the numbers in attendance to as low as possible to ensure safe social distancing. Numbers can be determined by the size and circumstance of the venue
- observing social distancing guidance across all aspects of attending a funeral
- people who are extremely clinically vulnerable can attend with measures put in place to reduce their risk
- people self-isolating because someone in their household is ill may attend if they do not have symptoms themselves
Professor Paul Cosford, Public Health England’s Emeritus Medical Director, said: "Every death is a tragedy and it’s important that family and friends can mourn as they need to.
"This revised guidance strikes a careful balance between our need to mark the life of a loved one when we are bereaved and minimising the risk of spreading coronavirus infection."
Harrogate Borough Council previously said it also has the facilities to live stream services for those who can not attend because of the coronavirus outbreak – but this may be affected due to high demand.
According to its website, around 90 burials and cremations are set to be held in the next four weeks.
As well as its open cemeteries and Stonefall crematorium site, the council is also responsible for 14 closed churchyards in the district.
A spokesman for the local authority said: "We have been observing these requirements for some time and are doing all that we can to support bereaving families during this difficult period.”
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