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Covid-19 Sydney: Families turned away from Rookwood Cemetery as they try to mourn relatives

Grieving families are being turned away from graveyards as they try to pay their respect the dead relatives – because it’s not essential

  • Rookwood Cemetery has closed to visitors under directions from NSW Police
  • Residents have lashed out at the decision to shut the country’s largest cemetery
  • Georgia Strazzeri lost her mother and other loved ones and visits site regularly
  • She said she can’t understand why the ‘nonsensical’ rules have been put in place 

Grieving families are being turned away from graveyards during Sydney’s lockdown because paying respect to a dead relative is not considered an essential reason to leave home.

Rookwood Cemetery in the city’s west closed last week after confirmation from NSW Health that visiting a grave was ‘not a reasonable excuse to leave home’.

Funerals of up to 10 people are still allowed in the cemetery, but private security guards are now turning mourners away if they are only there to visit a loved one.

Local Angelique Jasli said the rule made little sense as residents could still walk through the graveyard for exercise.

Rookwood Cemetery, in Lidcombe, in the city’s west was closed to visitors last week after NSW Police declared that visiting the grave of a loved one would not be considered an essential reason to leave home

Ms Jasli has set up a petition calling for authorities to reverse their decision to ban graveyard visits.

‘There is a lot of grief people are dealing with and having that situation is only making it worse,’ she told 2GB. 

‘We need visiting the grave of a loved one to be considered a reasonable excuse.

‘There’s no reason why we can’t manage the entrance and allow visits.’    

Ms Jasli said some other sites around the city were still allowing residents to pay their respects. 

‘In a time where people in our community are the most vulnerable, afraid and isolated that they have ever been before to CLOSE Rookwood Cemetery for visits has an enormous impact on the mental health of people who have lost loved ones and find peace only by visiting and caring for their graves,’ she said in the petition.

Georgia Maria Strazzeri is one of many that have been left devastated by the closure of the Rookwood Cemetery having lost her mother in 2015 and other friends and family since

Georgia Maria Strazzeri is one of many that have been left devastated by the closure of the Rookwood Cemetery having lost her mother in 2015 and other friends and family since

‘Imagine having recently lost an immediate family member, having to bury them with the current restrictions and now being locked out of the cemetery where you have just laid their body to rest.

‘Entry to visit should be granted on compassionate grounds at the very least.’   

Georgia Maria Strazzeri is one of the many others that have been left devastated by the closure, having lost her mother in 2015 and other friends and family since.

She has visited the cemetery several times a week for the last six years and sees it as a place of ‘respite’ and a spot to clear her mind.

‘I just think (the closure) is nonsensical,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.  

Ms Strazzeri said she has visited the cemetery several times a week for the last six years and sees it as a place of 'respite' and a spot to clear her mind

Ms Strazzeri said she has visited the cemetery several times a week for the last six years and sees it as a place of ‘respite’ and a spot to clear her mind

‘I can go to Officeworks and buy things that I don’t think are essential but I can’t see my mum.

‘I just think that maybe they (the government) need to understand that some things are essential and others are not.’

Ms Strazzeri, who is a support worker, said some of her friends, such as one who lost her teenage daughter, normally visit Rookwood everyday and were equally as distressed and frustrated at the sudden change in rules.

She said the closure of such a communal and popular cemetery would push people to travel to other potentially more risky places to get out of their house. 

Police are now patrolling the front gates of the cemetery with those entering having to provide personal details

Police are now patrolling the front gates of the cemetery with those entering having to provide personal details

‘I can understand if there was a large congregation gathering there, but I wasn’t doing that,’ she said.

‘Somewhere like Rookwood offers a place of respite and gives people the psychological feeling of being with their loved ones.’  

Under Covid restrictions Sydney residents can attend a funeral or memorial service with a maximum of 10 people.

NSW Health and NSW Police have been contacted for comment. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk