4th May 2020

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic will be affecting everyone in some way as we have seen dramatic changes to our way of life. However, those who may be most affected are the bereaved as social distancing guidance inevitably impacts on how we say goodbye to our loved ones.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 list funerals as one of the exceptional circumstances in which people can leave their homes and can congregate in groups of more than two people. This Regulation demonstrates that the government have not in any way suggested that funerals/cremations should take place without any mourners being present.

Instead, the government has developed guidance in relation to those paying their respects. This guidance was recently updated on 19 April 2020 and suggests that mourners should be able to stay at least 2 metres apart, only members of the deceased’s household or close family members should attend or if no-one falls into those categories, close friends of the deceased are permitted to attend instead. This guidance can be interpreted by Local Authorities and it is apparent that Local Authorities are taking a wide variety of approaches.

For example, there was a recent outcry in York when the Council initially prevented any mourners from attending cremations.  The National Association of Funeral Directors stated that this was ‘way beyond government guidance’ and could ‘impact long-term health and wellbeing’. The Council then changed its policy to state that immediate family could attend outside the building. Since then, the Council have changed their rules again: now up to 10 mourners can attend a cremation but they must remain outside the building.

If you have been denied the opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one or feel that you have been treated unfairly, you may have a potential claim. We at Ben Hoare Bell LLP have an experienced Human Rights & Civil Liberties team ready to assist you in claiming compensation if you have been affected.

If you wish to explore such an option please do not hesitate to contact us on 0191 565 3112 or by email at advice@benhoarebell.co.uk

Blog by Melissa Brazier, Paralegal