Traveller funeral organisers hit with £10,000 fine for 'total disrespect' of lockdown rules after 150 lined streets

TRAVELLERS who organised a funeral have been hit with a £10,000 fine for the "total disrespect" of lockdown rules after 150 mourners lined the streets of Kettering, Northamptonshire.

The large procession of people made its way through the town on Monday for the funeral of Joe Rooney, a 47-year-old from Corby, who died in a road crash last month.

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More than 150 people gathered to pay their respects to Mr Rooney as horses and cars processed towards St Edward's Catholic Church in London Road.

Officers put up roadblocks to prevent the procession from travelling into certain areas as the mourners made their way along with seven Rolls Royce cortege.

Now the Force is seeking to issue the organisers of the funeral with a £10,000 fine for what is describes as “their blatant disregard of the restrictions.”

This will be the first £10,000 fine for breaking coronavirus restrictions issued in Northamptonshire.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley, said: “Throughout this global pandemic, I have heard so many heart-wrenching stories from people who have had to bury their loved-ones in really difficult and harrowing circumstances.

“There have been limited numbers allowed, people who have been unable to attend and say goodbye, social distancing enforced throughout the service, and the opportunity to have a proper wake to celebrate that person’s life not allowed.

“These sacrifices have been incredibly hard for people to make but they have made them in the interests of protecting each other and their communities from a deadly virus that has killed more than one million people worldwide.

“It is then exceptionally frustrating when we see a group of people with no regard for other people’s safety, completely flouting the restrictions and having the type of funeral many people would have loved to have had but have been unable to hold, simply because they think they are above the law.

Guidance for funerals during the second lockdown

The government's current guidance on funerals in England is that up to 30 people are allowed to gather for services outdoors.

Places of worship will be closed, but will be allowed to hold funerals.

During the gathering, you must remain socially distant from anyone that is not a part of your household or support bubble.

Meanwhile, funerals being held inside must allow for people from different households to socially distance, with a maximum of 30 people.

Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance.

Anyone working is not included in the numbers.

“While I of course sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one, it cannot be one rule for some people and another rule for others, and no one is above the law.

“This is why Northamptonshire Police is seeking to issue its first £10,000 fine to the organisers of this funeral for their total disrespect of the restrictions put in place to keep us all safe.

“This may seem like a harsh course of action to some but I do not apologise whatsoever when I have seen so many painful sacrifices made throughout this pandemic by law-abiding citizens I have a duty towards.”

Funerals are allowed to go ahead during the lockdown, but there is a limit of 30 people allowed to attend the service.

Anyone working, like a religious leader, is not included in this number.

People attending services are also asked to stay at least 2 metres away from others outside of their own household.

Earlier this week, hundreds of mourners lined the streets of Birmingham for the funeral of a dad shot dead alongside the brother of Kinky Boots star Matt Henry.

This comes as coronavirus deaths rose by 194 in the UK on Monday  – as cases increased by 21,350.

The rise in infections brought the total number of infections in Britain to 1,213,363 – as Boris Johnson announced the UK had enough doses of the new Pfizer vaccine for a third of the population.

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