Five people ‘die of Covid’ after ‘street funeral party’, council claims

Five people have died from coronavirus after attending a "street party" following a funeral during lockdown, it has been claimed.

The large gathering took place in Birmingham with crowds reportedly coming together illegally to celebrate the life of someone who had recently died.

Council chiefs say it was one of several examples of hundreds of people breaching lockdown regulations 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.

"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.

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He was speaking to mosque leaders to ram home the importance of following government guidelines on funerals to prevent the virus spreading among mourners.

The current maximum limit on people attending funerals is 30, not including funeral staff.

Guidelines state that the majority of proceedings should take place outside, but there have been repeated breaches of the rules in Birmingham.

The council is taking legal action against some funeral directors they say are flouting the restrictions.

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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."

Council officials are monitoring social media to judge when funerals are likely to attract big crowds before taking action.

Mr Lankester added: "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.

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

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