Havering’s top public health expert has warned residents that the construction of a temporary ‘morgue’ at South Essex Crematorium is a “sober and sad warning” that the current good weather must not tempt people to go outside more than is essential as the battle against coronavirus continues.
The warning comes as Havering Council announced new rules on funeral attendance and access to cemetery grounds. From Wednesday April 8, in accordance with new government regulations, the grounds at South Essex Crematorium and the borough’s cemeteries at Hornchurch, Rainham, Romford and Upminster will be closed to the public.
The grounds will remain open until 7pm on Tuesday April 7, but social distancing and stay-at-home advice remains in place for all residents.
Funeral parties will be limited to no more than ten mourners who should consist of immediate family members and who are observing social distancing.
The temporary morgue facility has been built in the car park at South Essex Crematorium and is part of the London-wide response to the coronavirus.
Mark Ansell, Director of Public Health in Havering, said: “All the evidence we have is that, although the tough measures residents in Havering are using to fight coronavirus are working, here and around the country the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.
“The facility that has been set up at South Essex Crematorium is a terribly sober and sad warning that although we have put the right plans in place, this virus will take the lives of more loved ones yet.
“Everyone can do their bit to support front line NHS and care workers in that battle. The current good weather is a test and temptation for us all but the doctors, nurses and care workers fighting coronavirus need us all to only go out if necessary and limit periods outside to shopping for essentials or one piece of outdoor activity.”
Council leader, Councillor Damian White said: “The decision to close grounds at our cemeteries and crematorium is a difficult but necessary one. We will not close until Wednesday morning to give people an opportunity to visit the grounds one last time until the rules are lifted. But please observe social distancing and try and limit your time spent at the grounds so as many residents as want to make a visit can do so.
“Those residents who are over 70 or have underlying health conditions are urged with regret not to visit the grounds at this time.
“Staying at home whenever possible is most residents’ big contribution to the fight against coronavirus. There will be sunnier days to come this year after the battle is won, so I’m asking residents to stay home and enjoy the good weather in private gardens or through open windows. Stay at home, protect our fantastic NHS and social care staff, and save lives.”