Select Vestries may now consider ‘limited re-opening’ of graveyards

Saturday April 25th 2020

Following a change in guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive regarding graveyards, Bishop-designate George Davison has said Select Vestries in Connor Diocese may now consider limited re-opening of churchyards and burial grounds under their care. 

He stressed, however, that the restrictions on burial grounds have been amended and not repealed. The amended regulations do still place certain responsibilities on those who are responsible for graveyards. The current text is as follows:

“Special restriction applicable to burial grounds

4A. During the emergency period, a person who is responsible for a burial ground must take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of at least two metres is maintained between every person at the burial ground (except between members of the same household).”

“Bearing this in mind, and conscious of the variety in circumstances across the diocese, Select Vestries will need to consider what measures may be needed to ensure adequate social distancing in their churchyards,” the bishop-designate said. 

“In addition, I would suggest that vestries also conduct risk assessments regarding any precautions which may be necessary to avoid potential cross-contamination at points such as gates, water taps, etc.

“Only when these matters have been given due attention, should graveyards be re-opened.”  

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