BEREAVED families in St Helens are being urged by health chiefs and religious leaders to continue with funeral arrangements as normal and not delay them.

Burial and cremation services, as well as registrar facilities, remain a key service provided by St Helens Council during this time.

However, due to the strict social distancing measures put in place by the government, burial or cremation services are temporarily restricted to 10 people.

In a joint letter to residents across the Liverpool City Region, Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Reverend Paul Bayes and Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon, said it is “imperative that funerals take place as soon as possible”.

“There are some practical issues which you will be facing in the next few days and we would like to reassure you that we shall do everything we can to support you,” the religious leaders wrote in the letter.

“You will know from other information you are receiving with this letter that it is imperative that funerals take place as soon as possible at the moment: it is not an option to delay the funeral until after COVID-19 has been brought under control.

“Although the funeral will be conducted by a minister of your denomination, the restrictions on the number of people who can attend a funeral service will be upsetting to many families, but again we know that this is necessary to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Our hearts go out to those of you in that situation.”

Reverend Bayes and Reverend McMahon said your local church will help you organise the service “your loved one deserves at a future date when the life of the nation has returned to normality”.

The religious leaders added that they are working closely with local funeral directors to ensure the bereaved receive the care they need.

St Helens Council said it continues to offer as much support as possible to those who have lost their loved ones.

Cllr Andy Bowden, portfolio lead for environmental services, said: “We understand that families will want to pay their respects to their loved ones and we are doing all we can to ensure those who have sadly passed away are given the respect that they deserve.

“While a funeral ceremony during this time may not be the traditional send-off that families would want for their loved ones, we will do everything that we can to allow families to hold a more traditional memorial service at a later date.”

For more information regarding burial and cremation services in St Helens, click here.

Here is the letter from Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Reverend Paul Bayes and Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon in full:

St Helens Star: