LYME Regis Town Council’s decision to close the cemetery during the COVID-19 epidemic has been met with backlash.
Residents have taken to social media to complain that closure of the town’s cemetery is not necessary and stops the public visiting the graves of loved ones during a difficult time.
The cemetery in Charmouth Road closed on Friday and a debate on the subject has already attracted more than 60 comments.
Residents have argued that groups of people do not congregate in the cemetery so it is unnecessary to close it to meet social distancing guidelines. Others have said that not being able to visit graves during this period will effect their mental health.
The town council said it took the decision to close the cemetery following the introduction of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.
Burials will continue to take place with restrictions in place, but it will not be possible to visit graves, drive into or walk through the cemetery. The cemetery chapel has also been closed.
Further advice has been issued by Dorset Council, which said as other publicly-accessible areas are closed, it would be consistent with all the other COVID-related legislation to close non-essential areas, including burial grounds, to the public.
A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: “We checked with the Local Government Association who confirmed our interpretation that not only crematoria but burial grounds are covered by the Regulations and should close to the public due to the need to observe social distancing.
“This has been reflected nationally by other councils who have interpreted the legislation in exactly the same way.”