A GRIEVING mum launched a petition calling on the Government to reopen cemeteries during the coronavirus pandemic — saying: “People have the right to mourn loved ones.”
Paula Allen’s seven-year-old son Liam died in November after never recovering from a fit.
She was devastated to be turned away from his grave at Rotherham Crematorium this week due to new coronavirus legislation — and her family fear it will affect her mental health.
Her worried dad Peter Spittle said: “I can understand some of the restrictions but I cannot understand why they are closing cemeteries.
“There are not more than half a dozen people walking round the cemetery. It just seems stupid.
“Paula goes up there every day and has never missed a day, even Christmas Day. Having these restrictions is not going to be good for her. I am worried to death about her mental wellbeing.”
Paula, of East Dene, launched the online petition, which proposes reduced hours rather than closures. On Friday, more than 1,000 people had signed at change.org.
The mother of five said it would be possible to maintain social distancing.
“We go [to the cemetery] everyday to change his batteries in his lights because he’s scared of the dark,” she added.
“I went to the supermarket and around six people broke the social distancing rules.
“When we attend our son’s grave there is never, at any one time, a single person within 20 metres of us.
“We are deeply upset and I feel like I have been put back to day one of my grief.
“This is absolutely terrible and needs to be looked at again. Even if they only open for a shorter time, we should have the right to mourn our loved ones.”
Nicola Cook, regional manager of The Crematorium & Memorial Group, which oversees Rotherham Crematorium, said: “We appreciate that this is a very difficult time for anyone like Mrs Allen that has lost a loved one.
“Following the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020, we have followed the Government’s directive to close all cemeteries to visitors until further notice.
“On the day of a funeral up to ten people can attend the crematorium or cemetery for the service or burial.
“We would encourage all mourners attending a funeral to follow the Government’s advice with regards to social distancing.”