COUNCIL COVID-19 Update – 22nd May 2020 – UPDATE ON FUNERAL SERVICES

I have received an update from the Council on Funeral Services

Good morning

Here is a copy of a media release that is being issued today. We know that this is an issue of importance so wanted to let you know directly. A more general update will follow later today.

Crematoria chapels for funeral services to reopen in Leeds next month 

All crematoria chapels, including all burial chapels for funeral services at Leeds City Council managed sites, will reopen from Monday 8 June.

This decision follows a review of the number of cremations taking place in the city, which while still remaining high, have reduced to a level which can ensure that steps can now be put in place to protect the health and wellbeing of mourners, council staff and partners, whilst services are taking place in chapels.

As per pre coronavirus, service times will continue to be a maximum of 40 minutes. To ensure that appropriate cleaning can take place between each funeral service, the number of chapel funeral services taking place throughout the day will however be reduced from 11 to 9. This reduction will also ensure that the council is able to offer direct cremations along the same lines pre-covid19.  For further information on service times that can be booked, please see the notes to editors section.

In relation to funerals, Public Health England (PHE) published their revised guidance on 18 May to ensure funerals are conducted safely. To view the guidance, please see the notes to editors section.

The key message throughout this guidance note is the importance of social distancing to prevent the risk of spreading coronavirus. In line with this guidance, the council has taken the decision to restrict the maximum number of mourners to 10 that are allowed inside the chapel areas. To protect the health and wellbeing of all individuals in the chapel, we respectfully ask that social distancing be maintained at all times. Toilets and hand washing facilities will be available at each of the crematoria, along with hand sanitiser for mourners to use upon entering and exiting the chapel areas.

To ensure a thorough clean between each funeral service can be achieved and more importantly that mourners do not overlap with the next funeral service coming in, we will be working with Funeral Directors to keep services in the chapel to the specified length of time.

In recognition of the severe impact coronavirus continues to have on cremation and funeral services in the city, the council has taken the decision that bereavement service fees and charges will remain at 2019 prices until further notice.

Notes to editors:

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

In line with the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, the Council’s crematoria buildings remain closed to the public during the emergency period. Funerals are exempt to these regulations to enable burials and cremations to occur. The grounds of the crematoria remain publicly accessible.

In line with the same regulations only the following people may attend a funeral service as follows:

  • a member of the deceased persons household
  • a close family member), or
  • if there is no relative then a close family friend may attend.

    These regulations are mandatory and not advisory

The timings of chapel funeral services is as follows:

  • 09:20 – 10:00
  • 10:10 – 10:50
  • 11:00 – 11:40
  • 11:50 – 12:20
  • 12:40 – 13:20
  • 13:30 – 14:10
  • 14:20 – 15:00
  • 15:10 – 15:50
  • 16:00 – 16:40

Government guidance for managing a funeral:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

 Burial and graveside committals:

Due to places of worship being closed, there has been a significant increase in the length of graveside committals, with many services taking over an hour. The average time before coronavirus restrictions was less than 15 minutes. This increase has had an impact on other mourners and services especially if council grave digging teams are unable to backfill in time ready for the next committal. We are therefore respectfully asking all clergy and officiants that the graveside committal is no longer than 15 minutes and that no more than 10 mourners attend graveside. Should families require a longer service, all of the council’s burial chapels are available for use.