The Council has been receiving instruction and guidance from the government on a daily basis.
On Tuesday 7 April, it temporarily closed St John’s Cemetery in Margate to visitors in order to comply with The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions( (England) Regulations 2020 and said that this would be reviewed in line with national guidance.
On Saturday 18 April, the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government asked councils to reopen cemeteries and graveyards * so the team reopened St John’s in Margate on Monday 20 April.
Cllr Steve Albon, Cabinet Member for Operational Services at Thanet District Council said:
“We know that the recent closure of the cemetery in Margate was upsetting for some people, so we welcome this updated guidance from the Government. We reopened St John’s Cemetery earlier today so that those who have loved ones buried there can continue to pay their respects. It will be open every day between 9am and 6:30pm and the team will keep this under close review.
“We had reports of people congregating in our cemeteries when it was open previously so our Community Safety Team will be working with the Police to ensure that they are used only by those who want to visit a grave and remember loved ones. We ask that residents respect this and do not use our cemeteries for their daily exercise.
“If anyone has concerns about people congregating in our parks, open spaces and cemeteries then they should call 101. Please remember that no-one should be attending the cemeteries if they are showing any symptoms of illness. There are signs up in the cemeteries and the crematorium telling visitors to abide by social distancing rules.
“For those attending services, the advice remains the same. A maximum of 10 people are allowed to enter the chapel and all services can be recorded or watched online.”
Ramsgate Cemetery remains open as before. More information can be found on our website: thanet.gov.uk/crematorium-and-cemetery-services.
*Speech by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick on COVID-19 response: 18 April 2020 ‘And I’m also asking councils to keep open or indeed reopen cemeteries and graveyards. Not for people to congregate in. That must not happen. But for people to make that private visit. To seek solace in a word at the grave of someone you have loved. Or to privately lay flowers. There have been times in my life when I have needed to do that. I’m certain there are people who need to do it today.’