St Helens residents told not to use cemeteries for exercise after joggers and dog walkers flocked to facility

People flocking to St Helens and Newton-le-Willows’ cemeteries to carry out their daily exercise have been asked to stay away.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 3:31 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 3:36 pm
St Helens Cemetery

Under the strict coronavirus lockdown rules, members of the public are allowed to go outside for one form of exercise per day but must maintain two metres away from anyone they may come into contact with.

Parks and cemeteries have remained open, although St Helens Council said people should avoid these areas where possible.

St Helens Crematorium and Cemetery and Newton-le-Willows Cemetery are currently open to facilitate funerals, but restrictions have been put in place.

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But it has come to light that people are also using the borough’s cemeteries to get their daily exercise.

On Thursday, 317 vehicles attended St Helens Crematorium and Cemetery alone, according to St Helens Council.

This triggered a response from the Friends of St Helens Cemetery, a volunteer group, who pleaded for people to keep away.

In a now deleted tweet, St. Helens Cemetery, said: “To all those joggers and dog walkers flooding the Cemetery grounds with your leisure visits… please stop…

“You have been asked to refrain from visiting the cemetery until safe to do so… THIS MEANS YOU.”

Coun David Baines, leader of St Helens Council, shared the tweet and urged people to stay away.

“*Please* don’t use #StHelens cemeteries for jogging, walking or dog walking during the lockdown,” Coun Baines said.

“It is not essential, it is not appropriate.”

St Helens Council has now asked residents not to visit the borough’s cemeteries, other than for funerals and to care for their loved ones’ graves.

A council spokesman said: “We would ask that you don’t visit St Helens cemeteries for your daily exercise, as there are still large numbers of visitors and dog walkers – 317 vehicles yesterday alone – making the required two metres social distancing difficult.

“When exercising outdoors, wherever possible please try to avoid areas like parks and the cemeteries – where there are still key workers at work – and where there are likely to be more people.

“Following national government guidelines St Helens Crematorium and Cemetery and Newton-le-Willows Cemetery will remain open but only to facilitate funerals taking place and we are restricting numbers attending all funerals to ten immediate family members.”