‘Completely insensitive and a step too far’ – York MP demands funeral ban is lifted

York Central MP Rachael Maskell
9 Apr 2020 @ 11.40 am
| News

After being contacted by distraught families, Rachael Maskell has called on City of York Council to overturn its decision to ban funerals at the city crematorium.

Ms Maskell said the decision “stepped way beyond the government’s guidance which determines that 10 people should be able to attend a funeral and social distancing provision should be put in place”.

As YorkMix reported on Wednesday, the council has banned funeral services and mourners at the York Crematorium from today (Thursday, 9 April).

Cremations will go ahead unattended by loved ones. The restrictions were brought in “in light of new stricter and clearer government guidance relating to social distancing at funerals” and to safeguard the public, funeral directors and crematorium workers.

The York Central MP has now written to the council asking for the decision to be reversed, calling it “a step too far”.

Lasting pain for families

York Crematorium. Photograph © Google Street View

Ms Maskell has also raised this with the Local Resilience Forum, put in place to oversee strategic matters concerning the coronavirus outbreak, and the Secretary of State for Local Government.

She 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.

    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.

Distraught parents, children and siblings who have been denied the right to attend funerals of their loved ones have contacted the MP.

Ms Maskell said York could follow the lead of councils like North Yorkshire which are enabling funerals to go ahead with ten family members while observing safe social distancing.

She added: “It is also vital that for those of faith that religious and cultural observance is also adhered to. Respecting such wishes of the deceased is vital and falls in line with the United Nations Human Rights convention. 

“I will do everything possible to ensure that the rights of families and the wishes of the deceased are supported at this time. City of York Council must understand the pain that they are causing and change their policy today.”