Covid kills FIVE mourners who were among hundreds at lockdown ‘street party’ wake after Birmingham funeral, councillor tells mosque leaders
- Paul Lankester said the city council had learned ‘anecdotally’ of the deaths
- One of a series of covid breaches in the city, according to the council boss
- Also told how, in a separate incident, mourners tried to break into cemetery
Five mourners died of Covid after attending a lockdown ‘street party’ wake alongside hundreds of people after a funeral in Birmingham, a councillor told mosque leaders today.
In a separate incident, mourners tried to break into a locked cemetery to attend a burial expected to attract a crowd of 200, according to Paul Lankester, the council’s assistant director of regulation and enforcement.
Current government rules state no more than 30 people are allowed to attend a funeral, indoors or outdoors, with up to 15 permitted at memorial events.
In a separate incident, mourners tried to break into a locked cemetery to attend a burial expected to attract a crowd of 200, according to Paul Lankester (pictured), the council’s assistant director of regulation and enforcement
A temporary mortuary that was built in Birmingham a the start of the pandemic in April
Birmingham City Council has offered advice and guidance to families and funeral directors in an effort to help grieving loved ones say farewell in a safe way during the pandemic.
But Mr Lankester raised issues about some funeral directors and some of the services.
He told the meeting: ‘We’ve heard anecdotally that there was a rather large gathering in one funeral – it was a street, almost a street party type thing to celebrate the life of someone.
We’ve heard that five people who attended that got Covid and passed away.’
The council boss also highlighted how in an unrelated incident legal action was underway against one funeral director who had flouted the strict rules on attendances.
‘We’ve had a very serious incident in the last fortnight where we have taken action against a funeral director,’ he said in the meeting.
‘I’m not going to say where, when, how, who, what faith was involved.
‘But at that funeral there were upwards of 300 people at the cemetery and they then actually created bedlam within a local area because we just couldn’t manage it, we weren’t aware of it.
‘So the action we are taking is legal action… If you organise an illegal gathering above that 30 (people) you could be subject to a penalty notice.’
A specially trained volunteer wearing protective clothing circulates a temporary mortuary in Birmingham during the early stages of the pandemic
He told the meeting: ‘All I want to say is that we are working our hardest to try to ensure that infections and deaths are kept to a minimum and we need your support and help in doing that.’
Mr Lankester also spoke about some funerals attracting crowds following announcements on social media – which led to one funeral being stopped.
‘When they realised that people were going to do it (be let in), we had bolts, padlocks cut at the funeral, at a burial at a cemetery,’ he said.
‘People were just breaking in, but what we did was we stopped them, we escorted them and the funeral stopped. And I think that’s very disrespectful to both the deceased and the bereaved.
‘I think we are in a situation now to allow people with Covid to attend (funerals) if they’ve lost a close family member.’