Sheffield City Council issue statement on lockdown funeral rules after grieving families’ plea

Sheffield City Council have responded to greiving Sheffield families who have pleaded that restrictions allowing only five mourners at funerals in order to minimise the spread of coronavirus be lifted.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 9:14 pm
Updated Friday, 1st May 2020, 4:13 pm

Two Sheffield families contacted the Star to tell of their heartbreak after they were told only five people would be permitted to attend the send-offs of their loved ones at City Road Crematorium.

Gerald Hackford, 72, died at home on April 16 and Jean Castleton, 85, died at a care home on April 17.

Neither Gerald nor Jean had coronavirus, but both families were told the ‘five maximum’ rule still applies.

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Gerald Hackford and Jean Castleton.

It is understood that while City Road permits just five mourners, Grenoside Crematorium allows 10 people and Chesterfield Crematorium permits 25.

Sheffield City Council have now responded over the issue, stating a change to the rules would ‘undermine restrictions that are in place for everyone across the city’.

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: "Firstly I offer my deepest condolences to all the family.

Sheffield City Crematorium and Cemetery.

"Following instruction from the Government, we carried out risk assessments and took guidance from our Director of Public Health, on how we can continue to allow funerals to take place while making sure staff and mourners are safe, and that we limit the potential spread of coronavirus. We therefore took the very difficult decision to limit the number of mourners at a funeral to five.

“We are trying to get the right balance between being humane and limiting the spread of infection. I am aware that other authorities, and private crematorium providers in Sheffield, have applied different restrictions to funerals, some allowing more, some less and some none at all. I cannot make comment on other's decisions and I completely understand that to some our precautions may feel too extreme, but we are doing this to save lives.”

Coun Lea said that a small spread could ‘start clusters of cases and clusters can quickly lead to wider spread’ in turn can ‘have an impact on vulnerable individuals and create even more pressure on the NHS’.

"Our approach means we can offer all families a funeral for their loved ones, whether they have chosen a burial or cremation. To make an exception, in any case, undermines the restrictions that are in place for everyone across the city,” Coun Lea added.

"I can only imagine how hard this is for the family. We are genuinely sorry for this, and for all bereaved families in Sheffield at this time, and I want to reiterate that this decision has not been taken lightly.

"Should the family choose to use the council's funeral services we will work with them to make sure this is as comforting as it can possibly be while keeping everyone safe.

“We are also currently considering how we can help bereaved families to hold a celebration of life later in the year when national guidelines allow for this."

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