Mourners are ‘sneaking into cemeteries and hiding’ before services take place because of Covid restrictions

A group of 15 mourners were caught hiding inside a locked cemetery to attend a funeral restricted to 30 people because of coronavirus rules.

It is being reported that the mourners broke into the Birmingham cemetery before the service was due to take place but were ejected after being discovered by council staff.

Under England’s lockdown rules, funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people and deathbed weddings can take place, but places of worship can only open for private prayer.

Birmingham Live report the council has closed off all cemeteries to manage numbers and reduce the risk of coronavirus. They are only opened at specific times for services and to allow people to visit graves.

But a source said some mourners are trying to get round the restrictions by sneaking into cemeteries and hiding long before services take place.

They told the publication: “People have been going into the cemetery to hide before the funeral. One cemetery the week before last.. it was 15 (people hiding) so that’s 50 per cent more (than the number allowed). Council staff had to escort them out.”

They added: “There’s no doubt if you look at the places where people can catch Covid, one is at a funeral. The risk is heightened if that person happens to be a vulnerable person.

“You can see the extra risk there yet actually the rules in place for funerals are probably more relaxed than in many other spheres of life.”

A source added: “There have also been very bad traffic issues at a number of cemeteries because people are still trying to get in when they’re not allowed. That’s why the council keeps cemeteries closed while services are on to maintain that 30.”

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The city council has offered advice and guidance to families and funeral directors in an effort to help grieving loved ones say farewell in a safe way during the pandemic. It is understood the vast majority of mourners are sticking to the rules despite heartbreaking and difficult circumstances.

It comes after Birmingham Live reported that Paul Lankester, Assistant Director of Regulation and Enforcement, told a virtual meeting with mosque leaders that anecdotally the council had heard that up to five people who attended a huge memorial gathering later died with Covid.

He also spoke about some funerals attracting huge crowds following announcements on social media – which led to one funeral being stopped.

“I’m aware of all sorts of things that can go on social media, details of what’s happening – we’ve had that in the last week,” he had said.

“We actually quite successfully controlled a funeral that had potentially a couple of hundred people there. People were just breaking in, but what we did was we stopped them, we escorted them and the funeral stopped.

“And I think that’s very disrespectful to both the deceased and the bereaved.”