Yorkshire council which banned mourners at funerals will now let relatives stand outside crematorium

A Yorkshire council which was criticised for banning all mourners at its crematorium says it will now let relatives attend outside the building.

Sunday, 12th April 2020, 3:44 pm
York Crematorium. Photo: Google

City of York Council said last week that it was following other local authorities and stopping all funeral services at cremations - a move which York Central MP Rachael Maskell said "was a step too far" and a possible breach of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

On Saturday evening, the council changed its policy and said in a statement: "Following the announcement of unattended cremations, faith groups and the council have confirmed that they will offer a faith officiant present at the crematorium to undertake the committal of the body according to the appropriate religious rites, and that celebrants or a minister can read your words during the private cremation and that this will be recorded for families.

"The immediate family may wish to attend York Crematorium, remaining outside to pay their respects, similarly at Fulford Cemetery, whilst following official social distancing guidelines."

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The council confirmed that "in all cases no mourners can be present inside the crematorium".

But Ms Maskell said on Twitter: "York's re-issued crematorium policy does not go far enough. I can't understand why they are making this so hard for distraught families. It is going to have to change again."

Last week, the Labour MP said: "This is a very difficult time for everyone, but when crowds are still in our supermarkets and working in warehouses across the city, to stop close family members being able to say goodbye to a child, a parent or partner is completely insensitive and deeply damaging.

"Funerals provide an important role in the grieving process, and to be denied such an opportunity will cause lasting pain for families."

The online petition opposing the council's policy had reached more than 3,500 signatures on Sunday morning.

Council leader Keith Aspden said: "We know that the necessity of unattended cremation services will cause distress to many grieving people.

"The council took the agonising decision extremely reluctantly, but it is a policy that will ultimately save lives.

"We hope the arrangements to have a faith officiant or celebrant at funerals, confirmation that immediate families can attend York Crematorium and Fulford Cemetery, remaining outside, and that services of remembrance will be offered to all families, will offer people at least some comfort that their loved ones will be given the funeral rites appropriate to their religion, although they can't be there with them."

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