Coronavirus: Councils ban funeral mourners and cut services to 20 minutes

The funeral in the Eternal Gardens Muslim Burial Ground, Chislehurst of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, from Brixton, south London, who died in King's College Hospital in the early hours of Monday after testing positive for coronavirus Friday April 3, 2020. The teenager was buried in the Eternal Gardens at Kemnal Park Cemetery in Chislehurst without his family present as his mother and six siblings are forced to self-isolate. The highly contagious COVID-19 coronavirus has impacted on nations around the globe, many imposing self isolation and exercising social distancing when people move from their homes. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

Councils in England are taking drastic steps with funeral services during the coronavirus outbreak - with one even banning mourners from attending.

The city of York has banned mourners from attending cremations in the city, while Wakefield council in Leeds has cut all funeral services to 20 minutes.

It comes as the UK recorded its deadliest day yet from the coronavirus pandemic after 953 people died from the virus in 24 hours, taking the total to 9.016.

York City Council has told grieving relatives that, from Thursday, there will be no funeral services in the city, just "direct cremations only".

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Easter 2020: The UK in lockdown
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Easter 2020: The UK in lockdown
SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: A woman sunbathes from the window above the Britannia Fish and Chip restaurant on the seafront on Good Friday on April 10, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. Public Easter events have been cancelled across the country, with the government urging the public to respect lockdown measures by celebrating the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people across the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 fatalities recorded in the United Kingdom. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
LEIGH ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: A sign warning people to stay at least two metres apart on Two Tree Island nature reserve park on April 10, 2020 in Leigh on Sea, England. Public Easter events have been cancelled across the country, with the government urging the public to respect lockdown measures by celebrating the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people across the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 fatalities recorded in the United Kingdom. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
On the first day of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, and at the end of the second week of lockdown restrictions by the UK government, a family use their daily exercise entitlement to spend a warm afternoon near a stencil for keeping 2 metres apart in Ruskin Park in a public green space in the borough of Lambeth, on 10th April 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: A deserted Southend seafront promenade which would normally be bustling with the current sunny weather on Good Friday on April 10, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. Public Easter events have been cancelled across the country, with the government urging the public to respect lockdown measures by celebrating the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people across the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 fatalities recorded in the United Kingdom. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: People walk past a hoarding which has been painted with the words "Well Done NHS" and hearts on Southend seafront promenade which would normally be bustling with the current sunny weather on Good Friday on April 10, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. Public Easter events have been cancelled across the country, with the government urging the public to respect lockdown measures by celebrating the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people across the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 fatalities recorded in the United Kingdom. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
Chalk writing telling people to stay away from Margate Beach is visible on an empty beach in Margate, Kent, during the Easter bank holiday weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Unusually quiet north and southbound carriages on the A30 in Cornwall during the Easter bank holiday weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People near the river Thames in Windsor, Berkshire, during the Easter bank holiday weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People on the Long Walk at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, during the Easter bank holiday weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Staff at Blair Drummond Safari Park give their meerkats rainbow coloured Easter eggs filled with enrichments. The park is closed to the public at the moment as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People walk on the Tolcarne beach in Newquay on the north coast of Cornwall, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A view of the M25 motorway near Heathrow as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photo of people enjoying the hot weather at a busy Bournemouth beach, Dorset, during the Easter bank holiday weekend 20/04/19 (top), and the near deserted beach today (bottom), as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People walk along a near deserted Bournemouth beach, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Police officers patrol the sea front in a police car on Bournemouth beach, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The M5 motorway in Worcester, Worcestershire, which is normally busy during the Easter bank holiday getaway, is quiet as the UK continues in lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Embargoed to 0001 Saturday April 11 The Rev Peter Sutton records the Easter Sunday sermon in the Memorial chapel at the Parish Church of St Cuthbert in Edinburgh, the church has been streaming sermons as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite image showing an empty beach in Scarborough (top) dated date Saturday April 11, 2020 and the same scene (bottom) taken in 2019 over the Easter weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A runner passes street art in appreciation of the NHS placed near to the Francis Drake Bowls Club in Hilly Fields Park, in Lewisham, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A man jogs on New Brighton Beach near Liverpool as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
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The authority said it was a difficult decision but added there could be up to 14 services a day, meaning that 150 people could visit the crematorium in one day.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said the City of York Council's move to stop all funeral services "was a step too far" and a possible breach of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

The Labour MP said she has raised concerns with the council and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.

She said: "At this time some people are unable to be with close family members as they die, and then not being able to be with them at their funeral is a step too far.

"Constituents have shared their heartache over this decision by the council, a council who could institute safe funeral distancing measures as other councils are, like North Yorkshire, which are enabling funerals to go ahead with 10 family members while observing safe social distancing, as set out in the Government guidance."

​Meanwhile, Wakefield Council has issued new guidance on the length of funeral services at its crematoria in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The coffin of Helen Smith arrives at Wakefield Crematorium for her funeral, after she died 30 years ago in Saudi Arabia.   (Photo by John Giles/PA Images via Getty Images)

Any new bookings for funeral services at both Pontefract and Wakefield Crematoria will be 20 minutes in length.

Any existing bookings up to 27 April booked for a 40 minute slot will be unaffected by the change.

A Local Government Association spokesman said: "Councils are continuing to hold funerals in accordance with the latest government guidance and are making specific arrangements on a local basis to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.

"Councils aim to ensure that immediate family are able to say goodbye to their loved ones but that staff and mourners are safe, especially at a time when there may be increasing pressures on funeral services.

"We are seeking further guidance on funeral services from central government."

Wakefield Council's acting chief executive Andrew Balchin said: "This has been a very difficult decision to make in very challenging circumstances.

Couple standing together by a gravestone

"We understand that these changes will be difficult for families grieving the loss of a loved-one.

"These changes have been temporarily introduced to help keep everyone who is involved, both families and staff, as safe as possible during these unprecedented times. It will also enable more services to take place.

"We appreciate people's understanding during these difficult times."

- This article originally appeared on Yahoo! UK

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