Funeral directors are urging people to follow coronavirus restrictions after mourners broke the rules on social distancing.

A local funeral director, who does not want to be named, said there had recently been several instances where people had flouted Covid rules.

He said he had seen mourners break the rules to embrace bereaved families after a service, and there had also been occasions where people had gathered illegally outside the funeral venue.

“It’s not a general thing of people not following the rules, it’s like occasional things more than anything,” he said. “People [from different households] gathering in one house. People come out of a service and hug and kiss each other – things people know they shouldn’t be doing but feel it’s irrelevant on that day, as hard as it is.

“We’ve had one or two cases where people turn up at the crematorium or church. It’s an unlawful gathering. It’s their own responsibility not to do that. It’s not for us to police – we can give advice but it’s their own responsibility.

“People showing respect at the roadside is fine as long as people are sensible about it.”

Copeland Council, which runs Distington Hall Crematorium, is also urging the public to follow government guidelines, in order to minimise the risk to funeral directors and attendees.

Sue Pringle, the council’s bereavement services development manager, said: “We fully appreciate how upsetting it is for bereaved families to have to limit numbers at a loved one’s funeral service due to the current restrictions. We also know how upsetting it is for those who are unable to attend the funeral service of a loved one.

“However, the Government’s guidance around attendance at funerals is in place to ensure they can take place with the minimum risk of infection to guests, funeral directors and members of staff.

“We urge everyone who is thinking of attending a funeral to please speak to the family or funeral director first, and only attend the service with their agreement.”

Wendy Parke, of Adams Read & Hocking Funeral Directors in Cleator Moor, said: “We had problems initially in the first lockdown because the restrictions were such a drastic change from what we were all used to. Although we haven’t had any major issues recently, we are still reminding and urging families and friends to follow the guidelines and restrict attendance numbers.

“We need to protect the welfare of all involved, families, funeral personnel, ministers, crematorium and cemetery staff. With such a demand on the funeral sector currently, it’s critical that we follow the rules to ensure the service provision continues safely.”

Andrew Sandelands, of John Sandelands Funeral Directors in Workington, said: “We haven’t had any major issues from our point of view but we advise people to stick by the guidelines.”

Under current government restrictions, funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people.

Commemorative events linked to a person’s death, such as stone setting ceremonies, the scattering of ashes or a wake, can also take place with up to six people in attendance.