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Editor's Viewpoint

Reopening of cemeteries here is a welcome move but we must not ignore the dangers of this terrible virus

Editor's Viewpoint


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Council-run graveyards were closed last month but can now reopen

Council-run graveyards were closed last month but can now reopen

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Council-run graveyards were closed last month but can now reopen

In what is already proving to be a most difficult and indeed bewildering period, the decision taken last month to close cemeteries brought distress to many people who were prevented from visiting the graves of loved ones.

However, the decision yesterday that this ban is being lifted is a welcome victory for common sense. First Minister Arlene Foster said it was a matter of "balancing public health concerns with the basic human need to visit a loved one's grave".

The decision to stop people making a quiet, and usually solitary, trip to a grave was an unnecessarily harsh move, especially when there is no restriction on people walking to hot food outlets and off-licences, or going for a jog.

Significantly, Northern Ireland is a place where visiting cemeteries and paying respects is, ironically, an important part of life.

Whether it is a weekly or even daily visit, or the annual observance of Cemetery Sunday, there is comfort and a reassuring sense of continuity in these traditions.

In these strange, and often surreal, days people need to feel they can retain some contact with the old routines, where it is safely possible to do so.

However, for the time being, lockdown remains, and while the grim daily death total is another part of our everyday routine, it is the saddest of reminders that we cannot remain complacent to the dangers.

This virus still poses a fatal risk to many people, and normal life will be severely disrupted for many months to come.

Inevitably there will be a natural restlessness and a deep yearning to resume some type of normality.

However, we must remain wise and patient at all times.

By all means, you should take a safe and socially-distanced visit to the cemetery to pay your respects, but you should observe closely all the Government guidelines, and take all the necessary precautions.

Belfast Telegraph