Time to rethink cemetery closures

It is time to rethink the decision to close cemeteries

The pattern of the Covid 19 pandemic continues to evolve. So too is our response to it.

There can be no doubt that many of the measures which have been put in place are having a positive, and life saving effect. Keeping our distance from each other, washing our hands, staying at home and operating essential services and businesses only, has undoubtedly helped to reduce the levels of transmission and consequentially lives.

However, it is time to rethink the decision to close cemeteries. The risk of transmission means that placing limits on the number of close family members attending the burial or cremation must remain in force, but restrictions on access to cemeteries is an altogether different issue.

The grieving process and remembrance of former family members and friends is an extremly important part of how we all come to terms with bereavement. It is a central part of our culture and also a very important part of the psychological process of coming to terms with loss.

The original decision may well have been taken as part of a blanket response to the management of public spaces and the control of the virus, but it can, and should, be re-assessed.

People have responded well and responsibly, for the most part, to restrictions on social gatherings and self distancing. It works effectively at supermarkets, chemists, off licences and post offices . It can also be applied at cemeteries .

With simple, and tried, controls in place responsible relatives and friends can visit gravesides without increasing the the risk of transmitting or contracting C19. The immediate psychological pressure of not being able to visit a loved ones grave would be relieved and a very possible mental health crisis in the longer term could be avoided.

The Executive must address this now.

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