Why the 15-person limit on South Tyneside Crematorium funerals will remain - despite petition calling for increase
Council bosses have explained why more people cannot attend funerals at South Tyneside Crematorium after a petition calling for the limit to be increased.
The petition, which has been signed by more than 200 people, highlights national Government guidance which allowed up to 30 people to attend before May 17, with some venues now allowed to increase this further – subject to the size of the venue – as restrictions eased on Monday.
The petition states: “I do not understand why during such a difficult time for families our council is not making all efforts to increase the numbers.
"It makes no sense that large numbers of people can gather in shops, 30 children can sit in a classroom and that we can all attend a wake but we cannot sit together to say our goodbyes.”
However, Government guidance does specify that "the number of people able to attend a funeral will be determined by the number that can be safely accommodated in the venue with social distancing in place”.
Now the council has confirmed that due to the small size of the chapel at South Shields Crematorium and the need to maintain social distancing, the maximum number of people permitted inside needs to remain at 15.
A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman said: “We understand how distressing it is for anyone who has lost a loved one during the course of the pandemic, particularly with the Government restrictions that have been placed on funeral attendance.
“In line with the national guidance, more than 30 people will be able to attend a funeral from Monday, May 17.
"However, the rules clearly state that this ‘will be determined by how many people the Covid-secure venue can safely accommodate with social distancing’.
“In order to maintain social distancing at South Shields Crematorium, regrettably the maximum number of people permitted inside the small chapel will need to remain at 15 people.
“However, there will no longer be a limit to the number of people outside the building where the service can still be heard over the external speakers.
“Public safety is of paramount importance to us and we must continue to adhere to the national restrictions in place.”
The council also confirmed that more than 30 people will be allowed at the graveside for burials from May 17.
However, numbers of those attending the indoor service again will depend on the size of the venue.
It is anticipated that all restrictions on funeral attendance will be lifted from June 21, in line with Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.