Islington and Camden cemeteries reopen with social distancing measures

Islington and St Pancras Cemetery. Picture: Edmond Terakopian/ PA

Islington and St Pancras Cemetery. Picture: Edmond Terakopian/ PA - Credit: PA

Islington and Camden’s cemeteries are to reopen with social distancing measures following a council U-turn.

Trent Park Cemetery opened on Tuesday, while Islington and St Pancras Cemetery in East Finchley will open on Saturday.

Islington and Camden councils run the cemeteries together and had closed them on April 7 after funerals and mourners were disturbed by people “treating them as parks”, as well as concerns for the safety of workers.

But the move drew complaints and now, following government advice calling for cemeteries to remain open, the councils say they are satisfied new measures on social distancing will allow them to operate safely.

Environment lead Cllr Rowena Champion, said: “I know how hard this has been for mourners wanting to visit the graves of their loved ones in our cemeteries, at this very difficult time.

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“Our top priority during this global health emergency must be to ensure that our cemeteries are safe. I’m pleased we’ve been able to introduce new measures to allow us to re-open cemeteries in a way which protects mourners and our critical staff.

“I’d like to pay tribute to our staff and volunteers for their sterling efforts during this unprecedented time – and trust that visitors will help us to maintain a safe and appropriate environment in our cemeteries.”

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Trent Park is open with unchanged hours, while Islington and St Pancras will open on Saturday with full public access between 10am and 3pm.

Hampstead Cemetery will remain open thanks to the help of the Friends of Hampstead Cemetery.

Islington Council leader told the Gazette on Monday the authorities lacked the resources to keep cemeteries open as well as parks, but said the decision would be reviewed following communities secretary Robert Jenrick’s comments.

He added: “The cemetery was closed because we had rather unhappy incidents where people disturbed funerals and mourners by treating it as a park with kids climbing on benches and a whole range of others stuff.”

Funerals will continue to operate at Islington and St Pancras Cemetery, with access restricted to immediate family members until further notice.

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