UK Politics

‘A step too far’: York warned funeral ban may breach human rights

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A council's decision to stop all funeral services due to coronavirus is "a step too far" and a possible breach of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, an MP has said.

City of York Council has told grieving relatives that only "direct cremations" will be taking place, with mourners banned from attending.

"There will be no exceptions to this," the council's website says.

The Public Health England guidance to the Government on funerals published on 31 March 2020 states "with certain precautions funerals should continue to take place" It's now clear that @CityofYork are in breach of this guidance. I've asked York Council to overturn their decision.

— Rachael Maskell MP (@RachaelMaskell) April 9, 2020

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said the council has "stepped way beyond" the government's guidance, which allows funerals to continue with social distancing measures in place.

She said she had been contacted by distraught families and had raised her concerns with the council and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.

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"This is a very difficult time for everyone, but when crowds are still in our supermarkets and working in warehouses across the city, to stop close family members being able to say goodbye to a child, a parent or partner is completely insensitive and deeply damaging," the Labour MP said.

"Funerals provide an important role in the grieving process, and to be denied such an opportunity will cause lasting pain for families.

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"At this time some people are unable to be with close family members as they die, and then not being able to be with them at their funeral is a step too far."

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York Council said it had taken a difficult decision but it was not the only authority to do this, with Leeds and Bradford following the same policy.

Sharon Stoltz, director of public health for City of York Council, said: "I understand how difficult this decision will be for many people and the pain it may add to the loss of a loved one, and my heart goes out to anyone who is affected by it.

"Our utmost priority is that we protect people from the spread of coronavirus where it is possible to dRead More – Source