Families to be allowed to attend funerals to mourn close relatives

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LONDON: Families have been told they can attend funerals to mourn their loved ones and be allowed to visit their graves. At the daily press briefing in Downing Street on Saturday, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick asked councils to keep cemeteries and graveyards open, or to reopen them if they are currently closed.

He also urged councils to keep parks open after some closed their gates in recent weeks. Jenrick announced funerals can take place with close family members present. He pointed to the death of 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from Brixton in south London, who died after contracting Covid-19 on March 30.

He said the tragedy was compounded after Ismail’s family were not able attend his funeral four days later because they were self isolating, after two of his six siblings had displayed mild symptoms.“That is not right and it shouldn’t have happened,” Jenrick added.

“For clarity, funerals can go ahead with close family present. Social distancing measures must be respected, but families must have the opportunity to say a respectful goodbye to those that they love.”

He also said he had “made it clear” to councils that all parks must remain open after some closed their gates in recent weeks.

Victoria Park in east London reopened on April 11 after being shut for two weeks, while Brockwell Park in south-east London had closed on April 5 after Lambeth Council claimed 3,000 people, many sunbathing or in large groups, had visited the day before.

Jenrick warned people must abide by social-distancing rules and not congregate in the green spaces. He said lockdown measures were harder for those without gardens or open spaces and that “people need parks”, adding they needed to be accessible for “the health of the nation”.

In response to this announcement, Marie Curie Chief Executive Matthew Reed said the news is very welcome. It is heartbreaking that the virus has been robbing families of the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones,” Reed said.

“We hope that allowances can also be made, where possible and appropriate, for wider family and friends too. Funerals and visiting places of rest are an important part of the grieving process; people need the opportunity to grieve both individually and together.”

“Grief can feel very isolating, especially now, when emotions can be even more intense. We would strongly encourage the government to consider a national day of remembrance so that we can all join together as a nation to remember those who have died since the outbreak, both from coronavirus and from other conditions.”