Funeral restrictions are under 'careful consideration', minister hints
Stringent funeral restrictions are under ‘careful consideration’ and could ease in next stage of roadmap out of lockdown, minister hints
- Therese Coffey said funeral restrictions under ‘careful consideration’ for May 17
- Mourners are limited to 30, Work and Pensions Secretary said this could ease
- She was challenged over why thousands of football fans can return to stadiums
Hopes that restrictions on funerals could ease in weeks were boosted last night as a Cabinet minister hinted they could change on May 17.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said the stringent rules were under ‘careful consideration’ for the next stage of the roadmap out of lockdown.
She was challenged during an interview on LBC radio over why thousands of football fans can return to stadiums in trial events but funeral mourners are limited to 30.
Miss Coffey said: ‘I know that this particular issue is under careful consideration for the next step of the roadmap, which is due to come in the next few weeks.’
It is not clear which rules could be relaxed, but last week the Mail revealed that grieving families may be able to hug at funerals next month.
Government sources said they were ‘hopeful’ that a review would relax social distancing rules within weeks.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey (pictured) said the stringent rules were under ‘careful consideration’ for the next stage of the roadmap out of lockdown
At the moment, mourners must stay at least two metres from those outside their household or support bubble. The rules have been branded ‘inhumane’, and MPs, ministers and charities have joined forces to call for an urgent review.
The Mail is demanding that ministers reconsider the 30-person limit on mourners, introduce lateral-flow tests to reduce the need for social distancing and lift all limits on open-air services.
Last night, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Funerals and Bereavement met to discuss the restrictions.
Chairman Sir John Hayes, a Tory former minister, has been a vocal critic of the restrictions and has led calls for the Government to relax them. Labour frontbencher Rachael Maskell became the latest MP to back the call for action as she queried the logic of allowing thousands of fans to attend trial sports events while the cap on mourners remained.
She said: ‘It seems the priority with the way easements are applied is inconsistent with recognising people’s needs. I would argue that races are not a priority, but perhaps attending a funeral is. Of course, it has to be safe and socially distanced, but there’s no reason why that can’t be achieved.
Last night, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Funerals and Bereavement met to discuss the restrictions (Stock image)
‘If people could be tested, and of course they would be willing to, then they can actually act like a family unit, which is so important in providing grievance support.’
Professor Allan Kellehear, a medical and public health sociologist at the University of Bradford specialising in death, dying and end-of-life care, warned of the impact of the restrictions on mental health.
He said not being able to say farewell could lead to chronic depression, anxiety, suicide and poor physical health.
Professor Kellehear added: ‘Grief kills, make no mistake, that’s a public health fact.
‘So what we really don’t want to do is exacerbate those poor outcomes, and if you restrict funeral attendance you are making it more difficult to get better outcomes.
‘This shows me that either the Government is prioritising physical health over mental health, or… thinks that health is just a physical thing.’
He called the restrictions ‘outrageous’, said funerals should be prioritised and questioned why track and trace cannot be used to ease funeral restrictions, adding: ‘We do that in a range of industries. This is far more serious than getting hamburger or a haircut.’
Source: Read Full Article