CREMATORIA chapels are to be reopened in Leeds after a fall in the number of cremations.

All crematoria chapels, including all burial chapels for funeral services at Leeds City Council managed sites, will reopen from Monday, June 8.

The decision follows a review of the number of cremations taking place in the city, which - while still remaining high - have reduced to a level which can ensure that steps can now be put in place to protect the health and wellbeing of mourners and council staff while services are taking place in chapels.

Service times will continue to be a maximum of 40 minutes, just as they were before the coronavirus pandemic began. But to ensure appropriate cleaning between each funeral service, the number of chapel funeral services taking place throughout the day will be reduced from 11 to 9. The reduction will also ensure that the council is able to offer direct cremations along the same lines as pre-Covid19.

Public Health England published revised guidance on May 18 to ensure funerals are conducted safely.

The council says: “The key message throughout this guidance note is the importance of social distancing to prevent the risk of spreading coronavirus. In line with this guidance, the council has taken the decision to restrict the maximum number of mourners to ten that are allowed inside the chapel areas. To protect the health and wellbeing of all individuals in the chapel, we respectfully ask that social distancing be maintained at all times. Toilets and hand washing facilities will be available at each of the crematoria, along with hand sanitiser for mourners to use upon entering and exiting the chapel areas.

“To ensure a thorough clean between each funeral service can be achieved and more importantly that mourners do not overlap with the next funeral service coming in, we will be working with Funeral Directors to keep services in the chapel to the specified length of time.”

Bereavement service fees and charges will remain at 2019 prices until further notice.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, executive member for environment and active lifestyles, said: “I am pleased to announce the reopening of our chapel areas across the council’s managed crematoria and cemeteries. In order to ensure that our funeral services can continue to operate safely, some measures will however need to remain in place as part of ongoing efforts to manage the impact and potential spread of coronavirus.

“I would also like to thank our residents and communities for their continued patience and understanding during these unprecedented times. We fully recognise that the changes we made may have had an impact on some services for families of loved ones and we apologise for any discomfort or distress this has caused.”