Burial grounds at Stafford crematorium have been reopened following a change to the Coronavirus Act.
People can now pay their respects to loved ones at the town’s Tixall Road site after Stafford Borough Council sought Government clarification on legislation that closed the country’s crematoriums while cemeteries remained open.
Councillors today welcomed the legal amendment that means closures to burial grounds or Gardens of Remembrance surrounding crematoriums no longer apply.
Council Leader Councillor Patrick Farrington said: “As the law has now changed, I am pleased to inform you that the burial grounds at Stafford Crematorium will now be open to allow people to pay respects to a relative or friend.
“However, social distancing of two metres between persons not of the same household must be practiced at all times.
“The crematorium buildings however will remain closed except for those attending a funeral or burial.”
Councillor Anthony Nixon said: “I am very pleased that the Government has revised its directive to close burial grounds to visitors. I am sure everyone will welcome this development, and I fully expect relatives visiting loved ones will exercise social distancing.”
Councillor Price, the Council’s Cabinet member for the Environment, said: “I am very pleased people will be able to access the grounds of the crematorium to pay their respects and share quiet moments with lost loved ones.
“This has been a terribly tough time and it was heart breaking to hear stories of those who wanted to visit graves but were unable to.
“Many difficult decisions are being made during these challenging times and I am really glad we now have the clarity on this that I have been calling for.”
Stafford crematorium and burial grounds have been closed since the UK-wide lockdown began on March 23, while the cemeteries at Eccleshall Road in Stafford and in Stone have remained open.
But following the amendment to the 2020 Coronavirus Act, the Council reopened the crematorium on Thursday.
Announcing the change in legislation at the Government’s daily coronavirus briefing last Saturday, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said people would not be able to congregate in cemeteries or graveyards but could pay private visits.
“To seek solace in a word at the grave of someone you have loved. Or to privately lay flowers. There have been times in my life when I have needed to do that. I’m certain there are people who need to do it today.”