Monday, 30 Nov 2020

Five dead 'after going to lockdown street party where they caught coronavirus'

Five people who attended a ‘street party’ during lockdown later died from coronavirus, it has been claimed. 

The large gathering took place after a funeral in Birmingham with crowds illegally coming together to celebrate the life of the person who died. 

Council chiefs say it was one of several examples of hundreds of people breaching lockdown rules to hold large funerals in the city. 

Paul Lankester, from the city council, said: ‘We’ve heard anecdotally that there was a rather large gathering in one funeral, it was a street, almost a street party type thing to celebrate the life of someone.

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‘We’ve heard that five people who attended that got Covid and passed away.’

On another occasion around 200 mourners tried to break into a cemetery to attend a burial while another service which attracted 300 people was said to have created ‘bedlam’ in the local area.

People infected with coronavirus have also been allowed to attend funerals of loved ones, a decision that was described as ‘absolutely appalling’ by Mr Lankester. 

The official, who works as the Assistant Director of Regulation and Enforcement for the council, was speaking to mosque leaders to ram home the importance of following Government guidelines on funerals to prevent the virus spreading among mourners. 

Current rules state funerals can go ahead with no more than 30 people and the majority of the proceedings should take place outside. 

But there have been repeated breaches of this in Birmingham and the council is now taking legal action against some funeral directors who have been flouting the rules. 

Mr Lankester said: ‘We’ve had a very serious incident in the last fortnight where we have taken action against a funeral director.

‘I’m not going to say where, when, how, who, what faith was involved. But at that funeral there were upwards of 300 people at the cemetery and they then actually created bedlam within a local area because we just couldn’t manage it, we weren’t aware of it.

‘So the action we are taking is legal action… if you organise an illegal gathering above that 30 (people) you could be subject to a penalty notice.’

He said they are monitoring social media to judge when funerals are likely to attract big crowds and then taking action. 

‘I’m aware of all sorts of things that can go on social media, details of what’s happening – we’ve had that in the last week,’ he said.

‘We actually quite successfully controlled a funeral that had potentially a couple of hundred people there.

‘When they realised that people were going to do it (be let in), we had bolts, padlocks cut at the funeral, at a burial at a cemetery.

‘People were just breaking in, but what we did was we stopped them, we escorted them and the funeral stopped.

‘And I think that’s very disrespectful to both the deceased and the bereaved.’

One mosque member asked why the Government isn’t banning people with Covid from attending  funerals. 

The rules discourage a Covid sufferer from attending, but allow it as long as they are fully socially distanced.

Mr Lankester said: ‘I find it absolutely appalling that it has been allowed and I have made representations.

‘I’m in a national group looking at enforcement and compliance and looking at these things and I’ve had four or five extensive emails saying that this should not happen, this is posing risk.’

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