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Police were called to a funeral in the West Midlands after around 60 mourners flouted coronavirus lockdown measures. The group failed to disperse at Streetly crematorium after being encouraged to do so by officers, but no further action was taken. Walsall council have now said that the gates at the site will remain locked, with only controlled access given to mourners. In line with government guidance, the authority are allowing only 10 people to attend funerals.
West Midlands Police chief superintendent Andy Parsons said that the force would only enforce laws as “an absolute last resort”, but stressed that restrictions were in place to prevent more deaths during the pandemic. He said:
Unfortunately we were unable to encourage the mourners to adhere to current restrictions and the funeral continued in breach of the new government guidelines issued last week.
We understand that this is deeply distressing time for bereaved families and friends but there are restrictions on the number of people permitted to attend funerals to protect everyone from the spread of Covid-19.
The UK could see as many as 66,000 Covid-19 deaths during the first wave of the current pandemic, more than a third of the expected death toll across Europe, according to modelling by a US university.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine estimated that approximately 151,680 people were likely to die from the virus across the continent. According to a news release by the institute:
The death toll in many countries is compounded by demand for hospital resources well in excess of what is available. For example, peak demand in the UK is expected to total 102,794 hospital beds needed compared to 17,765 available, 24,544 ICU beds compared to 744 ICU beds available, and 20,862 ventilators needed (with data currently unavailable on ventilators available).