South Gloucestershire council has announced a series of measures to manage an anticipated peak in demand for burial services caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While social distancing measures and extra protections for those with serious underlying health conditions appear to be having a positive effect on the rate of transmission of the virus, it is also clear that the infection is taking a toll and leading to the death of many people across the UK, including in South Gloucestershire.
The council said it is making provisions for a “significant increase” in the numbers of deaths in a short period of time. It has also taken a number of steps to support the health and care sectors, cemeteries and funeral directors in the district.
It has announced the council-owned site across the Westerleigh Crematorium has been made available to provide additional cemetery capacity during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Depending on the numbers of people who pass away during the pandemic, and the rate at which that happens, the council said it may be still be able to accommodate all funeral requirements within its existing cemeteries at Kingswood and Mayshill, as well as at the privately-run Westerleigh Crematorium.
The Westerleigh Road site will only be used if the number and the rate at which people pass away reaches a point at which burials and cremations cannot be conducted safely or quickly enough at the existing facilities to keep up with demand.
Leader of South Gloucestershire council, Toby Savage said: “The Covid-19 outbreak has already had a massive impact on our lives and tragically friends, family-members and neighbours in South Gloucestershire have already lost loved ones because of the illness.
“My heartfelt sympathies go out to everyone dealing with loss at this most difficult of times, but I am proud of the work council staff are doing to help meet the challenges we are all facing together.”
He added: “Sadly, we are facing having to make provisions for a situation that none of us would wish to dwell on. It is right, however, that we prepare so that should the worst happen, we are prepared and able to treat those who pass away with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
“We are committed to ensuring that, for as long as possible, loved ones will be able to say goodbye in person in the way they would like.”