THE crematorium chapel should not close again - even if coronavirus rates rise - according to a City of York Council report.

Funeral services at York Crematorium were suspended at the beginning of April in response to the pandemic - meaning no mourners or celebrants could attend and the deceased were cremated without a ceremony.

The chapel will now reopen on Monday - and even if the coronavirus infection rate does not fall, the council will try not to suspend funeral services again.

Instead - the local authority would rearrange the number of bookings.

A report says three tests have now been met to allow indoor ceremonies to take place - key worker testing is available, the council now has adequate PPE for staff and there has been a decrease in the number of infections and deaths.

It says: "We anticipate that by June 1 that the infection rate will fall, which will reduce the number of funerals– should this not be the case we will look to adjust the number of bookings to reduce the risk rather than change our policy again given the other mitigations now in place.

"This includes a return to pre closure numbers, with up to ten mourners in the main crematorium chapel and five mourners in the small chapel. The services will still be recorded free of charge."

The layout and cleaning routines will also be modified to make sure they meet government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

Funeral services will be shorter - at 20 minutes rather than 25.

And fees will also be reduced to reflect the changes.

Cremations with a service usually cost £895 - but this will be reduced to £720 from Monday while social distancing and shorter services are in place.

Hand sanitising stations will be installed at the entrance and exit. A one-way system will be used inside the building and the chapel will be cleaned between each service.

Pauline Stuchfield, assistant director for customer services at the council, said: “Our thoughts are with everyone who has lost a loved one at this very difficult time.

“In recent weeks, thanks to York residents who are following the new social distancing guidelines, we have seen a fall in the number of new cases.

"This combined with a reduction in the number of registered deaths means that, with new measures in place to protect mourners, close family members will be able to attend funeral services inside the chapels at the Crematorium from Monday June 1 as announced earlier this month.

“As we continue to follow the latest public health guidance numbers will be limited to 10 mourners in the main chapel and five mourners in the smaller chapel.

"To ensure the safety of mourners and staff on site, the following steps are being taken:

  • Work is underway to adapt the chapel so those attending the funeral are able to observe social distancing safely, and will be completed this week.
  • Mourners will be asked to sit at least two metres apart.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be provided at the entrance and exit.
  • A one-way system will be used inside the chapel to help minimise the area which needs to be thoroughly cleaned between services.
  • After every service the chapel will be cleaned before another service can take place.

“A recording of the funeral service will be sent to the family afterwards and this can be shared with those unable to attend the service. The council is recording the service free of charge due to the number of people allowed to attend.

"Any individual with symptoms of Coronavirus must follow the Government guidelines to stay at home and not attend a funeral service.

“As further government guidance is announced over the coming weeks and months, we will review this position.”