Police were called to a funeral in Walsall when dozens of grieving people challenged the stiff guidelines on participation due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Concerns were raised when 60 people were seen attending a service that was held at the Streetly Crematorium on Little Hardwick Road on Saturday afternoon (April 4).
West Midlands police confirmed that officers attended the scene and found around 60 people there who were encouraged to disperse but failed to do so. No further action has been taken.
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As a result, the Walsall Council announced that the gates will remain closed only with controlled access granted to a maximum of 10 people, in line with government guidelines as the Covid-19 crisis continues.
Chief Superintendent of Commander Walsall Andy Parsons said: “Unfortunately, we have not been able to encourage the grieving participants to adhere to the current restrictions and the funeral continued in violation of the new government guidelines issued last week.
“We understand that this is a deeply distressing moment for grieving families and friends but there are restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend funerals to protect everyone from the spread of Covid-19.
“We will enforce the law only as an absolute last resort, but we must stress that these restrictions are in place to prevent further deaths from this pandemic.”
Councilor Garry Perry, portfolio holder for the community, leisure and culture, said that the authority will keep the crematorium closed this week with staff on the doorstep admitting only 10 close relatives for each funeral.
He said: “Unfortunately there are some who are unable to follow the rules set for no more than 10 mourners in a burial.
“Of course we recognize the discomfort currently caused by the ongoing restrictions, however the guide is clear: the definitive way to defeat the virus is to reduce social contact, stay home and save lives.”
Ward counselor Suky Samra added: “We appreciate that any loss of a family member is a sad event.
“But in these troubling and difficult times, we urge all communities to comply with the government guidelines of no more than 10 family members attending a loved one’s funeral.
“There will be a time to pay homage when this dark cloud is finally over.”