St Albans cemeteries reopened after government order

PUBLISHED: 14:15 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 22 April 2020

Hatfield Road cemetery gates remain closed leaving St Albans mourners unable to visit. Picture: Matt Adams

Hatfield Road cemetery gates remain closed leaving St Albans mourners unable to visit. Picture: Matt Adams

Archant

St Albans cemeteries are finally re-opening to visitors following instructions from the government.

Hatfield Road cemetery gates remain closed leaving St Albans mourners unable to visit. Picture: Matt AdamsHatfield Road cemetery gates remain closed leaving St Albans mourners unable to visit. Picture: Matt Adams

Mourners had been asking why the gates were still closed at the Hatfield Road cemetery in spite of recent government advice to re-open such places.

A temporary closure was enforced as a reponse to social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last weekend Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick asked councils to keep cemeteries open to allow families to grieve for their loved ones.

In his address on April 18 Mr Jenrick said: “I’m also asking councils to keep open or indeed to reopen cemeteries and graveyards... for people to make that private visit and seek solace at the grave of someone you’ve loved or to privately lay flowers.

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“There have been times in my life when I have needed to do that. These are small steps, but small mercies can make a difference.”

The Hatfield Road cemetery has now re-opened and others in London Road and Westfield Road, Harpenden will be open by the end of the week, the council has confirmed.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, portfolio holder for community, leisure and sport, said: “It was with considerable reluctance that I agreed to the closure of our cemeteries as I knew how upset many people would be at not being able to visit family graves.

“I had no choice, however, as emergency legislation brought in to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 forced the closure.

“It was clear this decision was causing much distress to people around the country and I think it only right that the government has had a rethink and changed its mind.

“We are reopening the cemeteries as quickly as we can as there are some staffing and safety issues that we need to resolve first.

“It will be for individuals to decide whether to make a visit to a grave. All I would ask is that people obey the social distancing rules whether they are visiting a memorial or grave or attending a burial service. I have every confidence that the public will do so.”


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