FAMILIES in Bradford face a heartbreaking ordeal when loved ones die following the decision to ban mourners and services at cremations. 

The Council said it had to take the “very difficult decision” as part of the ongoing fight against coronavirus and “taking into account new stricter and clearer government guidance relating to social distancing at funerals”.

This means it will take no further bookings for funeral services within its three crematoria - Scholemoor, Nab Wood and Oakworth - with immediate effect.

Any new bookings will be undertaken as direct cremation services only - a funeral which is not attended by mourners and has no service.

The tough new measures are likely to heap even more pain on grieving families trying to come to terms with their loss.

Lisa Shaw, 48, said goodbye to her husband Phil, 47, at Scholemoor last week. While the restrictions were not as severe, a limit was placed on mourners and she felt he did not get the funeral he deserved.

“I understand how people need protecting but I’m just so glad we got the funeral before these measures as I could not have coped with this,” she said.

“These are hard times for everyone but when you lose someone it’s even worse.”

Services that have already been arranged will go ahead as planned, but with a reduced maximum number of 10 mourners allowed from today - provided Council staff are allowed to carry out their duties with social distancing being observed for their safety.

The elderly, anyone with underlying health conditions or pregnant women are particularly encouraged to pay attention to current government guidance and to consider not attending a chapel service and Stay at Home.

Bradford Council said it will be reducing its cremation charges for as long as is necessary to reflect the fact that there will be no chapel services permitted.

Graveside burial services can still be booked and will continue to go ahead, but also with a reduced maximum of 10 mourners from today. Social distancing should be observed to allow Bereavement Service staff and gravediggers to carry out their duties with the maximum of safety. 

The changes are in line with those being introduced by other local authorities, including in Leeds. 

The Bradford Council for Mosques said it has been encouraging smaller attendances at Muslim funerals and Muslim-managed cemeteries.
A spokesperson said: “We are encouraged by the co-operation being received from families and Muslim funeral directors.

“This is a very difficult time for the bereaved families and our sympathies are with them during this extremely difficult time.

“We will continue to work closely with Bradford Council and the Public Health England to apply necessary safety advice and suggested precautions.”

In guidance to all priests across the Catholic Diocese of Leeds, which includes Bradford, on March 28, the Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Marcus Stock said: “We need to be as supportive as we can to the faithful in their time of mourning and let them know what the possibilities are for the funeral arrangements of their loved ones.

“Where local authorities are restricting cremations to ‘direct cremation’, I hope that the provisions will provide some pastoral comfort to the family of the deceased, knowing that a funeral mass arranged for the future will be able to include the cremated bodily remains of their loved ones being present.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said the sad decisions were ones she never thought the Council would have to make.

She said: “Our first consideration is that we have to protect people from this virus to ensure that the health and wellbeing of those that we work with, the public, Council staff, partners and stakeholders is protected.

“The death of a loved one is a tragedy for all those left behind and we don’t want to increase that distress however we also have a duty to all those attending and staff.  

“Please be assured we are continuing to monitor how we deliver our services, and will make changes as appropriate. 

“We will also continue to be in close dialogue with funeral directors to also keep them informed throughout this time.”

The coronavirus pandemic has also led to a temporary change to the law, meaning that all deaths and still births will need to be registered by phone.

The Council will not be taking face to face appointments or asking the informant to sign the register.

If you need to register a death, you will need to make a telephone appointment by ringing 01274 432151.

You will need to have the following information with you during the telephone appointment:

-Full name (s) of the person who has died

-Date and place of death

-Date and place of birth

-Marital/ Civil Partnership status

-Spouses / Civil partner’s details if applicable


-Full home address at the time of the death

-NHS number where possible

A Council spokesperson said: "Ideally we would also like you to have access to any official forms of identification for the deceased, such as a passport, driver’s licence, marriage/birth certificate.

"The list of qualified informants is also temporarily extended to include a funeral director (where they are acting on behalf of the family). Funeral directors are an addition to the existing list of qualified informants rather than a replacement.

"The temporary changes also allow for documents required for the registration process to be transferred electronically. Doctors will now scan the medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) direct to the Register Office instead of providing them to the family

"Certificates can be applied for at the end of the telephone appointment. Payment will be taken securely by debit/credit card and then posted first class."