Cemeteries to re-open in Cardiff while Blackweir Bridge set to close

Four cemeteries in Cardiff will re-open to members of the public from Saturday (25thApril),with newly-redeployed teams in place to ensure social distancing is maintained and the spaces are not used inappropriately during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Cathays Cemetery, one of the four council owned cemeteries in Cardiff

The council is calling on the public to only visit the cemeteries if they are attending a grave or for a funeral so that social distancing can be observed. In a separate move Blackweir Bridge across the Taff is being closed to the public after signs calling on people to observe social distancing were ignored despite repeated warnings.

The cemeteries were temporarily closed to the public at the start of April following a weekend that saw an unusually high number of visitors to the sites and reports of picnics, ball games and other large social gatherings taking place in the grounds. At the time the cemeteries were closed the Council advised that the decision would be kept under ongoing review.

Cabinet Member with responsibility for Bereavement Services, Cllr Michael Michael, said: "We've said from the start that this was a temporary measure and would be kept under review and I'm pleased that we are now in a position to redeploy teams to help ensure social distancing is maintained on-site and that we can re-open the cemeteries.

"We know this has been a difficult time for those who have been unable to visit the grave of their loved ones, and I would ask people to ensure that, now these important spaces are open, they use them appropriately and maintain a safe distance from others if they do visit."

From Saturday staff, mainly redeployed from the Council's parks service, with support from South Wales Police, will provide a visible presence at Cathays, Western, Thornhill and Pantmawr Cemeteries and will be closely monitoring usage of the sites, which will be open between 8am and 6pm.

Teams from our parks service will also continue their joint patrols with South Wales Police across Cardiff's parks and green spaces.

Cllr Bradbury said: "Our parks team have responded fantastically to the current situation and I'd like to thank them for the flexible approach they've shown to their work. We've been pleased with the public's behaviour in our parks over the past few weeks, the vast majority of people seem to be heeding the message to stay home, stay safe and to maintain social distancing if they are using our parks and I very much hope that will carry over into our cemeteries."

The Council has recently taken action to ensure social distancing is maintained at Roath Park Lake, introducing a one-way system around the perimeter, and plans have also been agreed today to temporarily close Blackweir Bridge.

Blackweir Bridge in Pontcanna

Cllr Bradbury continued: "Signs asking people to only cross in one direction at a time and maintain social distancing have been in place at Blackweir Bridge for some weeks now. We've spent a lot of time monitoring the area, along with our colleagues from South Wales Police, trying to reinforce that message, but unfortunately despite clear warnings that not doing so could result in the closure of the bridge, the message is not being heeded.

"We've been looking at a variety of possibilities to try to keep the bridge open, but the reality is that maintaining a two metre distance is very difficult on a bridge that is only just over one metre wide.

"Maintaining this route across the river would require significant staff resources, resources that are currently limited due to the ongoing situation, and could be used to greater public benefit elsewhere - particularly when there are much wider nearby bridges available to the north and the south, where it is much easier to cross the river whilst keeping a safe distance.

"We appreciate this may cause some inconvenience and we'll continue to review the situation with a view to re-opening the bridge as soon as realistically possible."