The North Devon Crematorium is introducing some initial measures to minimise the risk of infection from the COVID-19 virus and to ensure maximum service availability.

The measures include:

  • stopping coffin bearing which will be replaced with a hydraulic trolley
  • removing hymn books and playing hymns from a television screen
  • closing the chapel doors straight after committal to prevent touching of the coffin at the end of the service
  • encouraging families to reduce the number of people attending services
  • removing some seating to allow chairs to be spread further apart
  • asking people to leave paperwork in a postbox rather than come into the office or even better, scan and email it back
  • stopping double-length services
  • bookings being taken no more than two weeks ahead
  • prohibiting anyone self-isolating, or who has a cough, fever or shortness of breath from entering any of the buildings
  • encouraging people over 70 or anyone with underlying health conditions to not attend services
  • encouraging mourners who aren't immediate family or friends to watch the service via the internet

Bereavement Services Manager Mark Drummond says: "We realise that the measures we are taking will cause families some distress as they won't be able to say goodbye to their loved ones in the way they would like to. We hope that people will understand that we are having to take these unprecedented steps in order to prevent the spread of the virus and to ensure we have enough capacity for the sad and anticipated increase in the number of deaths over the coming few months.

"As the crisis develops, stricter measures may become necessary but we will try to act proportionately to the risks and demand on our services."

People are asked to check the council's website for the latest information and also sign up for email alerts about how this and other council services will be affected by the virus.