Spalding Cemetery is to reopen from Monday – albeit on reduced hours.
The cemetery has been closed to the public during the coronavirus outbreak despite a number of complaints from people wishing to visit and tend the graves of their loved ones.
At last Saturday’s central government coronavirus briefing, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick asked councils to keep open or reopen, cemeteries and graveyards, saying it’s important for people to be able to make private visits and seek solace at the graves or to lay flowers.
Despite this advice, on Tuesday SHDC told The Voice that the cemetery would not be reopening.
However today (Friday, April 24), the council has changed its stance and says following changes to government regulation published yesterday, the cemetery will be reopened on Monday.
The cemetery will be operating on reduced hours with the council stating issues with anti-social behaviour is the reason for this.
Gates will be open from 9am to 2pm Monday to Friday, rather than its normal hours of Monday to Sunday 8am to 6.30pm.
Councillor Roger Gambba-Jones, Portfolio Holder for Place, said: “The legislation now in place by the government allows for people to leave their home to pay respects to the person’s household, a family member or friend.
“Our decision is open the cemetery on a reduced hours basis means we can fulfil that obligation to our residents but also manage the area due to our concerns over anti-social behaviour.
“We have reports that people using the cemetery weren’t observing social distancing, therefore to open the cemetery on a reduced hours basis means we can monitor people’s behaviours in line with government guidance.”
Coun Gambba-Jones is also asking people to be aware of their surroundings while visiting the cemetery.
He added: “The cemetery is a large area with some remote locations and with the current restrictions in place there will obviously be less people around at the moment.
“I don’t want to put people off going but I do want them to be aware of what’s going on around them. I’m concerned some people might find themselves in a vulnerable position.
“If you are able to visit with a member of your household, do so, or if not just be aware of your surroundings.
“We have asked the grounds staff to keep an eye on people as much as possible.
“Spalding is a very safe place to be and incidents are few and far between but they do happen. I’m just saying please be careful and be aware of who’s around.”