City of York Council has taken “one of the most difficult decisions” of the coronavirus emergency by ending all funeral services at York Crematorium.
The cremations will continue as planned when the measures are enforced from tomorrow (Thursday, 9 April).
A number of precautions have already been taken at the crematorium to reduce the risk to members of the public and staff.
“However, in light of new stricter and clearer government guidance relating to social distancing at funerals, we have had to make today’s difficult decision,” a council spokeswoman said.
The council is taking into account the risks of infection spread outside of hospital settings and “has to ensure that the health and well-being of everyone is protected, including the public, crematorium staff and partners, such as funeral directors”.
Really difficult for people
Director of public health for York Sharon Stoltz said : “This has been one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make.
“At a time when family and friends are the most important part of our lives, we know this is going to be really difficult for many people who have lost their loved ones.”
We’re living in unprecedented times and as such, we have to ensure we’re doing everything we can to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus and sadly, that includes attending funeral services.
With the number of infections and deaths rising, and ahead of the predicted peak period of infection, we must put these new measures in place now to protect our most vulnerable.
This is why we’ve consulted at length with funeral directors in York and have collectively determined that it’s sadly in the best interests of everyone if we cease all funeral services.
City of York Council is exploring all other possibilities such as holding services of remembrance at a later date when government restrictions have been lifted.
“We will provide a short video within the chapel free of charge for those services that have been booked, and we are seeking support from other faith agencies across the city too,” Ms Stoltz said.
“We are aware that many families have already made plans and we wanted to ensure they have to make alternative arrangements balanced with taking swift action to save lives.
The council said it has updated funeral directors, is monitoring the situation and will inform the public of any further service changes.
Why are we making the changes at such short notice?
We appreciate this is very short notice but we must take clear public health advice to ensure everyone is protected and that we limit the risk to the public, our staff and partners, including funeral directors.
What happens if we have a service planned at the Crematorium?
The cremations will continue as planned but unfortunately, this means that services that have already been arranged will not be able to go ahead. We will still provide a short video within the chapel free of charge for those services that have been booked although it may be a little time before we can get these to the family.
What about future service bookings?
At the moment, any new bookings will be undertaken as ‘Direct Cremation’ only. A ‘Direct Cremation’ is a funeral which is not attended by mourners and has no service.
Are there any exceptions to this new rule?
Sadly not – these are unprecedented times and we want to ensure that the bereaved families have the opportunity to celebrate their loved ones life’s and in addition to our own remembrance services we will seek support from other faith agencies across the city to do this once the coronavirus outbreak is over.
Will we be able to collect our loved ones ashes?
Yes, the ashes will continue to be available for collection and where the families wish to scatter these in the grounds we can arrange for this to happen once it is safe to do so.
For more information:
All the latest information on the steps the council is taking during the corona virus outbreak including York crematorium are available on the link below: www.york.gov.uk/coronavirus