Police called to break up huge funeral after ‘hundreds’ of mourners show up

Police were called to a funeral after "hundreds" of mourners turned up in breach of Covid-19 restrictions.

Pictures show a large crowd of people gathered for the ceremony on Monday afternoon.

The current coronavirus rules say only 30 people are allowed to attend funerals.

Rochdale Council said the "large gathering" at the Denehurst Cemetery breached the restriction, with mourners turning up after the funeral had taken place.

A council spokesman said the family of the deceased "were prepared to follow the restrictions in place" but extended family and friends showed up.

The crowd then spilled over onto the car park of Rochdale AFC's ground nearby, the Manchester Evening News reports.

It is understood that the funeral was being held for two people.

One local resident posted a picture of the large crowd on social media and said "hundreds" of people were in attendance.

Officers from Greater Manchester Police were called to manage to traffic in the area and "get people away quickly".

But the town hall said the gathering was "difficult to manage" as it was held in an open, public space.

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In a statement, a Rochdale Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of a large gathering at a funeral at Denehurst cemetery on Monday 28 September, which clearly breached the maximum number of mourners currently allowed at a funeral under current restrictions and social distancing expectations.

“The large numbers attended were not expected or anticipated by staff at the cemetery, with mourners turning up after the funeral had taken place.

"This was an extremely sad loss to the family, who were prepared to follow the restrictions in place as advised by the council; but extended family and friends still came to pay respects.

"The majority of these people were away from the graveside and gathered on the other side of the road.

“As Denehurst is an open public space, large gatherings such as this can be difficult to manage and officers and PCSOs from Greater Manchester Police attended to help with traffic management to get people away from the area quickly.

"We continue to work closely with local community groups, funeral directors and Greater Manchester Police to ensure that gatherings of this nature are prevented.

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"We will also be reminding people that there is a maximum of 30 people allowed at any funeral and to encourage people to stagger visits to pay their respects.”

In a statement posted online, a spokesperson from Rochdale AFC said: "Rochdale AFC is aware of social media posts linking the Club with a large scale gathering at the nearby Denehurst Cemetery, as well as on our car park.

"The Club were not involved in the organisation of this funeral and no permission was given by the Club for the car park to be used in this manner.

"Whilst our sympathies are with the bereaved family, the Football Club would like to reiterate the message that the observation of social distancing and all Government guidelines regarding Covid 19 are paramount. Therefore, the Police and Council were informed immediately."

Greater Manchester Police has been contacted for a comment.

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