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COVID-19: Yeovil Crematorium reopening to the public for small chapel services from 4 May

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South Somerset District Council has taken the decision to partially reopen Yeovil Crematorium's chapel from Monday 4th May. 

Having taken a very difficult decision to close public services in the chapel in order to keep people safe and comply with early government guidance and requirements in the early weeks of the pandemic, we have kept this decision under constant review.

We understand how important having a service is for grieving families and in the interim period have offered an farewell’ service in the grounds and rose garden of the Crematorium.  On the whole we have received positive feedback in the way this has been done, in ensuring an appropriate and dignified way for people to say goodbye to their loved ones.

This decision to close was taken to protect the health of the public, funeral directing staff and the highly qualified and experienced Crematorium team. This was with a view to ensuring that during the pandemic the Crematorium could continue to operate this critical and essential service for all that need it and with the safety of everyone taken in to account.

Since the decision was taken we have been working hard with the Crematorium Team and Funeral Directors with a view to reopening safely and in line with guidance, introducing measures to keep people safe. Whilst we have received positive feedback on the alternative open air offering, we are aware that many mourners value the chapel service to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Steps we have taken include:

  • Significant alterations inside the chapel including removal of soft furnishings from the chapel that can not be easily deep cleaned
  • Plans to enable a service to take place but with social distancing to protect mourners and staff
  • redeploying staff from other council services and training to increase resource and therefore make our team more resilient should illness occur.

An important context to this is the embedding of social distancing messages within the community. We have monitored the bookings of cremations and the impact of the Stay at Home campaign, and this demonstrates attitudes have changed and less people are now attending funerals.

We have received letters of support for our actions and great understanding and thanks from those that have needed to use our crematorium over the last 6 weeks. However, we now believe that we have done all we can to ensure that the service is there for all that need it and that we can now safely accommodate a chapel service with up to 10 mourners.

Cllr Peter Gubbins, portfolio holder with responsibility for Yeovil Crematorium, said: “We took the incredibly hard decision to suspend services within the chapel last month because we didn’t want to jeopardise the safety of the public and those that operate the site.

“As part of SSDC’s extensive work to gain greater resilience for our services we have now redeployed and trained extra staff which has given the Crematorium team greater capacity.”

“The safety of our communities and our staff operating the site must always be of paramount importance and to ensure that we conduct the safest service possible we will be working in co-operation with local funeral directors at all times. It is really pleasing that we can now offer services within the chapel again and that mourners can say goodbye to their loved ones safely.”

Operational measures to ensure a safe service

Adhering to social distancing guidelines the chapel attendant will meet with funeral directors upon arrival, the crematorium bearing service is not available at this time. 

Communication between the chapel attendant, funeral directors and minister/celebrant will need to be outside the chapel only. The waiting room, music room, vestry and office will remain closed to the public and for staff use only.

The chapel attendant will not be in attendance during the service and will only enter the chapel once all mourners have exited. 

Cleaning will take place in the chapel in between each service.

The current guidance on who should attend:

  • Members of the person’s household
  • Close family members
  • Or if the above are unable to attend, close friends
  • Attendance of a celebrant of choice, should the bereaved request this

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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