By Christopher Morgan
Kirklees Council announced today that they have taken the decision to make further changes to funeral services in the district.
Taking into account new government guidance relating to social distancing at funerals, the council has made the decision to take no further bookings for funeral services at it’s Huddersfield and Dewsbury Moor Crematoriums from Monday 6 April.
Services that have already been arranged will go ahead as planned, but the number of people in the chapel will be limited to 10 so that social distancing can be carried out for the safety of both staff and mourners.
The elderly, anyone with underlying health conditions or pregnant women are particularly encouraged to pay attention to current government guidance and to consider not attending a chapel service and stay at home.
They added that any new bookings will be carried out as ‘Direct Cremations’.
According to the council, a ‘Direct Cremation’ is carried out without mourners and has no service.
Whilst the council will no longer offer a full funeral service or allow families to come into the crematoria, it hopes that providing the opportunity for a vicar or celebrant to say a prayer or a few words in the chapel will bring some comfort to families and loved ones.
Graveside burial services can still be booked and will continue to go ahead, but also with a reduced maximum of 10 mourners. Social distancing should be observed to allow bereavement service staff and gravediggers to carry out their duties safely.
These changes are in line with those being introduced by other local authorities in the wider area, including Leeds and Bradford.
The council added that these policies will be reviewed on a regular basis as the COVID-19 pandemic develops, and they will work with funeral directors to seek alternative options.
One example put forward by the council is to work with families to hold a celebration of life or similar service later in the year when facilities become available again.
Anyone who has any questions about the process is advised to speak to their funeral director, who will be able to support them with arrangements.
Councillor Rob Walker, Cabinet Member for Environment said: “We are making these decisions with a heavy heart, nobody wants to have to take something from people who are grieving.
“Sadly, whilst this terrible virus continues to spread throughout the world we need to put in place measures to protect our staff, mourners and their families.
“We know that losing a loved one is heartbreaking, and we understand that funerals provide an opportunity to formally say goodbye and celebrate their life.
“This is why we are working with funeral directors to explore ways for memorials to take place in the future.
“These are unprecedented times, and I can assure you that we will do everything we can to offer your loved ones a respectful final journey.
“We will review arrangements on a regular basis, and remain in close dialogue with funeral directors to keep them informed throughout this time.”