Crowds of mourners ignore social distancing as dozens pack cemetery

Crowds of mourners ignore social distancing rules as dozens pack cemetery for funeral while police ‘keep an eye on the situation’

  • People packed into Oxbridge Cemetery in Stockton on Tuesday to pay respects
  • Mourners flocked to cemetery despite strict rules prohibiting large gatherings
  • Cleveland Police said they received a number of calls about the service 

Photos have emerged showing crowds of mourners ignoring social distancing to attend a funeral on Teesside.

People packed into Oxbridge Cemetery in Stockton on Tuesday to pay their respects despite strict rules prohibiting gatherings involving large numbers.  

Cleveland Police said they received a number of calls and were, ‘keeping an eye on the situation.’ 

According to guidance issued from Public Health England: ‘Mourners should avoid any direct face to face or physical contact, for example hugging each other unless they are part of the same household.’  

People packed into Oxbridge Cemetery in Stockton on Tuesday to pay their respects despite strict rules prohibiting large numbers

Under current guidance funeral directors should also be consulted as they may impose a limit on number of attendees. 

The funeral comes as a group of Conservative MPs have signed a letter calling on  the Church of England to allow small-scale funerals in churches amid lockdown restrictions.

Churches shut down in March amid safety concerns over the spread of coronavirus, with current social distancing rules permitting funerals only at crematoriums or at the graveside.

A letter signed by 36 MPs suggests clergy should be allowed into churches to officiate services while adhering to safety procedures.

Cleveland Police said they received a number of calls and were ‘Keeping an eye on the situation.’

A car in Stockton with a photo and a slogan saying RIP Dennis

The letter, addressed to Lord Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops of the Church of England, voices concerns that ‘the wishes of the deceased and bereaved are not being fulfilled with a proper committal in the church of their wish’.

It adds that the Church should ‘consider, most intently, the pain and anguish of those families unable to have a funeral’.

The letter from Conservatives, organised by West Dorset MP Chris Loder and signed by 36 colleagues, said: ‘The grief of bereavement is being translated to trauma in many cases, especially where it is resulting in the tragedy of direct cremation.

‘The Government guidance is clear: funerals, with proper measures in place, are permitted and indeed encouraged.’

They urged bishops to ‘consider, most intently, the pain and anguish of those families unable to have a funeral’ and allow their ‘compassion to shine through’ when considering the issue.

The funeral comes as a group of Conservative MPs have signed a letter calling on the Church of England to allow small-scale funerals in churches amid lockdown restrictions

Another 436 people were today confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in England, Scotland and Wales

The Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s adviser on healthcare policy, said: ‘The death of a loved one is painful under any circumstances and the current situation has made this all the more difficult for those who have been bereaved.

‘The House of Bishops has been meeting frequently and advice is reviewed regularly and updated as circumstances allow.

‘The Church of England has consistently stated that it will always ensure that, where requested, a priest is present to conduct a funeral service, either at a crematorium or at the churchyard.

Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, co-signed the letter asking for the ‘wishes of the deceased and bereaved’ to be fulfilled  ‘by allowing clergy back into their churches to provide funerals’

‘Any suggestion that the Church of England is responsible for ‘direct cremation’ could not be further from the truth – that is against both Government guidance and the Church’s commitment to provide pastoral care for all.

‘The advice not to conduct funeral services in church buildings – and it is advice, not instruction – was given because of concerns about parishes having capacity to conduct funerals safely, including being able to deep-clean church buildings between services.’  

Another 436 people were today confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in England, Scotland and Wales, taking the number of victims past 29,000 and making Britain the worst-hit nation in Europe. 

A letter signed by 36 MPs suggests clergy should be allowed into churches to officiate services while adhering to safety procedures

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