A FUNERAL director has described how families are being forced into the awful situation of allowing funerals to go ahead without anybody attending because of the coronavirus crisis.

Mark Campion, director of Jackson Family Funeral Directors which has funeral homes in Worcester, Pershore, Malvern and Upton, said planned funerals which were due to have hundreds in the congregation will now only be attended by three close family members as the coronavirus spreads and the risk of infection increase.

Mr Campion, who is asthmatic and now falls into the most at-risk category which means he faces three months in self-isolation, said how extremely sad the last couple of weeks it has been for Jacksons as he speaks with families organising funerals and cremations under increasingly stricter restrictions.

He said: “Things have dramatically changed for us. I have not seen anything like this in 36 years.

“I just feel so sorry for the families because they can’t say goodbye to their loved ones like they usually would. It’s extremely sad for the families.”

Mr Campion said many direct cremations were now being carried out without a funeral service beforehand to be safer and also said a vicar held out a broomstick at a recent service to keep people apart.

“We don’t really know what’s happening to be honest. It changes on a daily basis. Lots of services are just getting cancelled because nobody can attend," he said.

Mr Campion also said he was expecting more than 200 people to attend a service later on this week which can now only be attended by three family members.

“We have talked about holding a service at a later date so everybody that was supposed to be at the service could attend but we just don’t know when this is all going to end. It could be this year; it could be next year. We just don’t know,” he said.

“There’s just no way we can plan for the future, it’s impossible.”

Government advice means procedure at funerals has had to change with attendees unable to hug, kiss or shake hands at services and public safety put at the top of priorities.

Mr Campion said staff have protective face masks and gloves as well as hand wash and other cleaning materials to try to protect themselves and everybody else.

“Luckily my business colleagues will look after everything. I’m just so sad and disappointed, I can’t even explain it. I really love my job but I have to go home now because now I’m classed as a risk.

“I am a bit lost with it all, it’s changing now on a daily basis, but we’re still open and we’re still going. It’s a difficult situation.

“I feel quite guilty. Speaking to the families who are obviously quite upset because they can’t have a proper funeral.”