A HEARTBROKEN son has spoken of his "intense grief" after he was banned from touching his mother's coffin at her funeral during Britain's coronavirus lockdown.
Barry Lewis's mum s Mary died at Royal Derby Hospital aged 84, on March 5 from pneumonia.
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The Derbyshire County Council leader said he and his family weren't allowed to touch or carry his mother's coffin over fears they could become infected with Covid-19.
Funerals were not included in last month's government's ban on social gatherings to tackle the spread of the virus.
But health and safety restrictions mean funerals are limited to 10 people who must stand two metres apart.
Hugging is also banned in line with social distancing measures to curb the deadly disease.
'LIVES TURNED UPSIDE DOWN'
Mr Lewis revealed the virus had "turned our lives upside down" and warned Brits burying loved ones “this will be the reality for many over the coming weeks”.
Funeral directors told Mr Lewis just before Britain went into lockdown in March that his mum's familu couldn’t carry or touch her coffin.
Mr Lewis told Local Democracy Reporting Service: "Until the last minute nearly we didn't know what form the funeral could take.
"We had to wait on a call the morning of the funeral to tell us what we needed to do when there – things like wait in or by your cars until collected, stand two metres apart and sit apart.
"The lens through which I looked at the funeral was far from normal and on the day, it took us all by surprise, the grief was more intense, somehow focused by the absence of others and the strange circumstances we were all living our lives in.
GOVERNMENT’S FUNERAL GUIDANCE
- Restricting the number of mourners who attend so that a safe distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) can be maintained between individuals
- Only members of the person’s household, close family members or – if the deceased has neither – a modest number of friends may attend
- Mourners should follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral
- Any individual displaying symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend
- Mourners are strongly advised not to take part in any rituals or practices that bring them into close contact with the body of a person who has died with symptoms of COVID-19
- Contact with the body should be restricted to those who are wearing PPE and have been trained in the appropriate use of PPE
"The thing is, I, we, won’t be alone in this experience – this will be the reality for many over the coming weeks and I feel for every one of them going through it.
"For many, hopefully not too many, it will be made worse because of Covid-19.
"It won’t feel right, you will feel that you haven’t done enough, haven’t marked your loved one’s passing in the right way."
Yesterday, Britain's virus death toll spiked again to 4,974 after 621 more people died.
A total of 47,806 people across the UK have now tested positive for coronavirus after 5,903 more people were infected.
FAMILIES' FUNERAL AGONY
Meanwhile, the relatives of a D-Day hero who could only have four mourners at his funeral slammed another family who flouted social distancing rules to hold a service for 40 people during the coronavirus lockdown.
Ronald Wilson died last Monday aged 95 with his brokenhearted family abiding with the government's social distancing rules.
But mourners for travelling community elder Alfred Loveridge, 82, ignored social-distancing rules as they paid their respects at his graveside.
Last week, it was revealed an NHS doctor was forced to watch his mum's funeral on a Zoom video conference after she died of coronavirus.
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He said none of the family were able to visit her during her last days and only three of his brothers were able to attend the funeral.
"We watched the funeral via Zoom conference, which is something I'd normally be using for work-related conferences," he said.
"I never thought I'd be watching my mum's funeral in that way."
Boris Johnson announced the ban on public gatherings, including weddings and baptisms, at a Downing Street press conference last month.
Announcing the draconian measures, the PM said: "We will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with.
"And we’ll stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals."
Councils and the church have been encouraging couples to live stream their nuptials and ceremonies to guests.
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