Northumberland closes all cemeteries - and these are the rules for funerals

All cemeteries in Northumberland are now closed to the public, while funerals will be limited to eight family mourners.

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 3rd April 2020, 4:35 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 4:36 pm

In a statement issued on Friday, April 3, Northumberland County Council said it ‘regrets to inform residents that with immediate effect all cemeteries are now closed across the county to the public until further notice’.

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This applies to sites managed by the local authority as well as those looked after by town and parish councils or local joint burial committees.

Spitalford cemetery, which serves the parish of Embleton and contains a war memorial listing the fallen from eight locations. Picture by Jane Coltman

The statement adds: ‘Unfortunately, this is a requirement of the new Government legislation around coronavirus and the council has had to close the cemeteries to meet these requirements.

‘The council understands that these measures are very difficult for many families who are grieving and want to visit the grave of loved ones. However, cemeteries and burial grounds can now only open for funerals.

‘We continue to work closely with churches and funeral directors around funeral planning and cemetery arrangements, and appreciate the cooperation and understanding of the public at this time.’

Restrictions will also apply at funerals, with the number of mourners at funerals limited to a maximum of eight members of the immediate family of the deceased.

However, the local authority has also introduced a free web-cast service so that anyone unable to attend a service in person is able to view it through digital means.

These restrictions apply to funerals, memorial services and gatherings for all faith groups at any cemetery in Northumberland as well as Blyth Crematorium.

The council’s statement continued: ‘This decision has not been taken lightly, but is necessary for the safety, health and consideration of the local and wider community.

‘We appreciate that this will cause sadness and upset to those who seek comfort in visiting the resting place of their loved ones.

‘Please be assured we are following Government guidelines and that cemetery spaces will still be looked after and treated respectfully by our staff.’

Funerals were one of the few exceptions to Boris Johnson’s lockdown measures announced in March, which banned weddings and christenings as part of social-distancing restrictions.