Conwy Council to start webcasting funeral services to keep mourner numbers down
A council has said it will webcast crematorium services free of charge in a bid to keep numbers of mourners attending chapels down during the coronavirus outbreak.
Conwy council informed funeral directors today (Thursday) of the move, which is designed to dissuade non-essential mourners from attending services at Colwyn Bay crematorium, Mochdre.
The offer comes on the back of advice, handed out by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA), about funerals services at crematoria and cemeteries.
The advice includes “discouraging mourners from touching the coffin”, advising they “blow a kiss or wave instead”.
The letter, from Conwy council’s environment, roads and facilities department said: “We will continue to provide a burial and cremation service to our communities and customers in line with the National and professional advice.
“This means that; services will still take place but families are to be encouraged to follow the advice around reducing the transmission of the coronavirus and the previous advice provided is adhered too.
“In an effort to further support the previous advice and to encourage families to think about the number of mourners the webcasting service at our crematorium will be provided for free.
“We understand that discussions around funeral services are taking place at a National level and as soon as there is any further advice or guidance I will write to you all again.”
The FBCA advice says there is still no ban on cremations and burials, however the Church in Wales stopped funeral services on Tuesday evening, except for graveside burials.
Where ceremonies take place in crematoria chapels the guidance is to restrict the gathering to close family and friends.
People above 70 years old and pregnant women are especially urged to heed Government advice about self-isolation which “may mean they have to miss the funeral, or hold the funeral, or hold a memorial service at a later date”.
The guidance continues: “A risk based approach to attendance is encouraged.”
Mourners are to be encouraged to stay in cars until ushered in and not to shake hands.
Cemetery and crematorium teams should hold open doors where possible to reduce contamination the guidance says.
Mourners should be seated “a respectful distance away from each other and crematorium teams should consider removing service books and asking those paying respects to bring service sheets with them. They should be disposed of in appropriate containers after the service.
Teams wearing “suitable personal protective equipment” should clean down the chapel after use.
Hand sanitisers, gloves and tissues should be handed out to mourners and disposed of in “suitable receptacles” afterwards.
The advice says that crematoria may have to work for longer to cope with demand and advises shortening services where possible.
It said cremator manufacturers suggest a maximum of 10 cremations in any 24-hour period but they can operate for 24 hours a day in “pandemic situations”.
The UK Government’s Coronavirus Bill will go through Parliament today (Thursday). In it there are relaxations over the registering and certification of deaths.
Coroners will not need to be informed of deaths if there is an appropriate medical person available to certify it – and funeral directors will be allowed to register deaths on behalf of families, who may be self-isolating.
The need for “a second confirmatory medical certificate in order for a cremation to take place” will be removed, in order for cremations to be arranged more quickly.
Any relative of the deceased will be able to fill out a cremation application form.
Finally the bill will remove the “requirement that any inquest into a COVID-19 death must be held with a jury”. All other notifiable diseases will be unaffected by the change in law, which will be time-limited.
By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter
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