Crematorium canopy in place – as council says York funeral restrictions now conform with the latest government guidance

The canopy at York Crematorium. Photograph: Martin Rowley

Temporary facilities mean up to 10 mourners can gather outside York Crematorium.

A canopy has been set up outside the crematorium with seats set apart, so that mourners can keep a distance to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

A minister or celebrant can “spend time with the family in prayer service and commit the body outside”.

Funeral director Martin Rowley said: “This will now enable families to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones at the crematorium, and give them closure.

“Rowley & Sons continues to offer its chapel of rest for a full service for up to four close family and friends. Other service venues are available to have a full service with larger numbers.”

Prayer service for mourners

York Crematorium. Photograph: Minster FM

It comes the day after the government issued new national advice on funerals during the coronavirus lockdown. That followed criticism of City of York Council and some other authorities for going too far with their restrictions.

The new advice states: “The government has advised that funeral services should continue and has requested that Local Authorities consider how they can facilitate this.

“Funerals with physical attendance of mourners should continue as long as those attending adhere to this guidance, which details how the risk of transmission can be reduced.”

Claire Foale, head of communications, said: “The council is committed to providing services to all bereaved families during this difficult period, whether that be at Fulford Cemetery or York Crematorium. 

“In line with recent Government guidance, mourners are allowed to attend services at York Crematorium, outside of the chapel, but under shelter, with the following options available to them: 

  • Close family members will be able to attend the Crematorium and wait for the hearse to arrive.  The council has provided a covered space for this purpose.
  • The minister/celebrant can spend time with the family in prayer service and to commit the body outside, depending on faith practice.
  • The celebrant/minister can also attend to give a service within the chapel and we will provide a video free of charge for those families who wish for a copy.

“We will ensure all families are offered a service of remembrance at the crematorium, once restrictions have lifted, and city-wide services of remembrance will be held in the future, including at York Minster, following conversations with faith leaders.”

She said the measures were needed to protect bereaved families, funeral directors and crematorium staff. “Our utmost priority is saving lives, including those of bereaved families, the public and members of staff working in incredibly difficult circumstances.”