Derry MP welcomes evidence-based decision to reopen cemeteries

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has welcomed a decision by the Executive to permit cemeteries and graveyards to reopen on the basis of medical and scientific advice.

Friday, 24th April 2020, 4:42 pm
Derry’s City Cemetery will reopen to the public. DER1720GS - 012

The Foyle MP said that political leaders should take a precautionary approach to any lockdown easements but that they should be guided the most up to date evidence from the Chief Medical and Scientific Officers.

Colum Eastwood MP said: “The trauma of losing a loved one has been made more difficult by the lockdown restrictions that seek to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The suspension of our traditional way of marking a passing and processing grief has been very hard for many people to bear.

“I’m glad that the latest medical and scientific advice offers some relief for those seeking to visit loved ones and that we can permit the opening of cemeteries and graveyards with controls on social distancing.

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“It is a matter of regret that parties publicly moved to different positions this week before hearing the advice necessary to make a determination on this issue. This has caused significant upset for many people.”

Mr Eastwood cautioned that while today’s decision is a welcome easement, it was important that people strictly follow the lockdown guidance.

“This is not a broad lifting of the restrictions,” he said. “People are still dying in our communities, health service staff are still putting themselves at risk to keep us safe. We need to keep our guard up or more people will lose their lives unnecessarily.

“The only way we can move to ease further restrictions is with a mass testing and tracing programme that allows us to identify new outbreaks, isolate vulnerable communities and prevent further transmission. That must be the focus now.”