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Redditch Borough Council has made it free for funerals to be live streamed from Redditch Crematorium so that friends and family are still able to attend during Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

It comes after the Government took emergency action to restrict movement in general and access to burial grounds specifically, as well as public health advice on restricting attendance at funerals, to help prevent the spread of the virus and maintain critical services.

The cost of webcasting had been more than halved with the support of the service provider Obitus, but councillors have now instructed officers to provide the service at no cost.

Cllr Brandon Clayton, Redditch Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services, said: “These emergency measures are in place for the right reasons nationwide but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people are affected by them. For one thing they mean many people can’t currently make their own choice to attend funerals. Given this we think it’s the right time for the council to provide live streaming as a free service to reduce that concern for families at what is already a very difficult time.”

Cllr Matt Dormer, Leader of the Council, said: “Live streaming is usually an option, but for many it is currently the only option. We must support people who find themselves through no fault of their own unable to attend a funeral due to the emergency Coronavirus measures. We’ll review the situation again when the emergency period is over.”

It’s the latest in a series of changes to bereavement services in the borough and nationwide due to measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, including under new national regulations that came into force last week (March 26), the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

Redditch Crematorium and all cemeteries are now closed to the public except for funerals or burials, where mourners are being asked to remain in their cars beforehand and stay two metres apart at all times and remove tissues and service sheets afterwards. The distance between pews at Redditch Crematorium has also been increased, and hymn books removed.

Arrangements remain subject to updates at short notice at this time, as Government guidelines are subject to change.

For more details of this and all the latest borough council Coronavirus service updates, please visit www.redditchbc.gov.uk/coronavirus.