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Islington cemeteries to reopen with new social distancing measures in place

Measures to protect mourners and cemetery staff have been introduced

21 April, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Islington and St Pancras cemetery

ISLINGTON and Camden’s cemeteries are to reopen to the public following a U-turn by council chiefs.

Trent Park Cemetery has opened again from today (Tuesday) with opening hours unchanged from before the closure.

Islington and St Pancras Cemetery in East Finchley will be open to mourners again from Saturday (April 25) and hours will be restricted to between 10am to 3pm on weekdays, with the public allowed full access to the grounds at weekends.

Hampstead Cemetery will stay open with the help of the Friends of Hampstead Cemetery.

The council has said they may still need to restrict access to the cemeteries at certain times.

The cemeteries were closed after the council said they were concerned about the increase in visitors using the space for outdoor exercise and the safety of their cemetery workers.

The sites were closed and were only being used for funerals which only immediate family members are allowed to attend.

The move meant relatives were unable to visit the graves of loved ones and the local authorities faced calls from residents and councillors to review their decision.

Following government advice over the weekend asking local councils to keep cemeteries open for the bereaved, council leaders announced they would reopening them to the public.

Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, and lead for the Islington and Camden Cemetery Service, said: “I know how hard this has been for mourners wanting to visit the graves of their loved ones in our cemeteries at this very difficult time.

“Our top priority during this global health emergency must be to ensure that our cemeteries are safe. I’m pleased we’ve been able to introduce new measures to allow us to re-open cemeteries in a way which protects mourners and our critical staff.

“I’d like to pay tribute to our staff and volunteers for their sterling efforts during this unprecedented time – and trust that visitors will help us to maintain a safe and appropriate environment in our cemeteries.”

Green Party councillor Caroline Russell said she was pleased the council had responded to her request to review the situation.

“At this time of physical distancing and self-isolation, bereavement is particularly hard,” said Cllr Russell.

“I do realise that this is a very difficult and pressured time for those working in and managing the cemetery services and am very grateful the council has come up with such a helpful and compassionate compromise solution that will offer some solace to bereaved people.”

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