ONLY immediate family members will be permitted to attend cremation services as efforts are stepped up to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Dudley Council has written to funeral directors saying only next of kin (spouse or partner), siblings and partners, parents, children and partners, and a carer if applicable, will be allowed to attend cremations of loved ones during the COVID-19 crisis.

In line with Government social distancing guidelines, mourners will be restricted to two per pew at Stourbridge Crematorium - with an empty pew to be left in between those that are seated, allowing for a maximum of 18 people in the chapel.

At Gornal Wood Crematorium - mourners will be restricted to three per pew - with an empty pew left in between those that are seated, which will allow for a maximum of 22 people in the chapel.

Mourners that cannot be seated, as above, will be required to remain outside the chapel. While outside signage will be installed advising people to remain at least two metres apart from each other.

In a letter to funeral directors - Ian Bailey, principal bereavement services officer, said: "Hopefully following our guidance of only having immediate family at the service, all those attending will be able to be seated in the chapel.

"The council regrets having to issue this instruction and recognises the support and assistance that will be required from funeral directors."