RELATIVES will be unable to tend the graves of deceased loved ones in Redditch during the coronavirus lockdown after the decision was taken to close cemeteries across the area.

Graveyards are now closed to the public except for funerals or burials, as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and maintain critical services.

Bromsgrove District Council says the closures are required under new national regulations, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, and include Redditch Crematorium.

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Mike Birkinshaw, Bromsgrove District Council’s bereavement services manager, explained the reason for the move.

He said: “In line with the latest Government advice cemeteries and the crematorium are now only open for funeral and burial services, and closed the rest of the time.

“Meanwhile to help people say goodbye as safely as possible, services are limited to six mourners only and a range of safety measures are in place before, during and afterwards."

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The safety measures during services include a minimum distance between people of two metres, and mourners being asked to remain in their cars before, and remove tissues and service sheets after, funerals.

At Redditch Crematorium, which along with cemeteries is managed by a shared service between Bromsgrove District and Redditch Borough councils, the distance between pews has also been increased, hymn books removed, and the cost of live streaming ceremonies reduced to £40 to make remote attendance more accessible.