'Through the worst of it' - Funeral director looking forward to return to normality after busiest months of his 25 year career

J.J. Burgess & Sons

Funeral director Justin Burgess - Credit: J.J. Burgess & Sons

As part of restrictions being lifted on Monday, May 17, wakes - which currently only allow for 15 mourners - will be moving up to 30.

Funerals currently already allow 30 people to attend but it is hoped that all restrictions will be lifted next month.

J.J. Burgess & Sons

J.J. Burgess & Sons have branches in Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans, Knebworth and more - Credit: J.J. Burgess & Sons

Earlier this year we spoke to funeral director Justin Burgess of J.J. Burgess & Sons, who told this paper at the time about the challenges of turning people away from funerals due to the restrictions.

Now that coronavirus cases and deaths are significantly lower Justin said that he and his staff have "settled into a new rhythm" and that people have got used to the new restrictions.

"30's not ideal but it encompasses most family members, that has started to work quite well," Justin told this paper.

"The new announcement is quite misleading, although yes lockdown measures will be lifted a lot of funeral venues are still sticking with the same numbers. So that's really put us square in the middle as funeral directors we have to then disappoint people again.

"It's been a bit crushing for people, some people have waited for a funeral after May 17 in the hopes the numbers will be lifted but the venue hasn't fallen suit with the government rules."

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The start of the year was the busiest working period in his career as a funeral director which spans more than 25 years.

J.J. Burgess & Sons

J.J. Burgess & Sons has been based in Hatfield since 1839 - Credit: J.J. Burgess & Sons

Justin said: "Things have quietened down without a doubt. We don't have any cases of COVID at the moment which we are very pleased about.

"I think as long as people remain sensible, we've come through the worst of it.

"It's whether people's attitudes will return to normal. There's been lots of occasions where the smaller funerals have been very nice and a lot more intimate, perhaps they didn't have to worry about inviting everybody because they knew they knew they could have this intimate family affair.

"I think it will be a long time before people will want to be gathering with loads and loads of people. I think the main thing will be when we can get rid of these masks because that's been quite a barrier.

"Although you're face-to-face you don't feel it because they've got their mask on and you've got yours on. 

This was highlighted when he had to deal with a family who were all deaf, "It was extremely difficult" and he had to ask to remove his mask so they could lip read.

It was a scenario he hadn't considered up until that point.

Looking back on the past few months Justin said he was "extremely grateful for our staff who have all worked without break and the families' tolerance who have been extremely accepting of the restrictions put on them".

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