A halt on coffin bearing, removing hymn books and removing seating are some of the measures being introduced at North Devon Crematorium in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

People people over the age of 70 or those with underlying health conditions will be encouraged not to attend services and those self-isolating or displaying Covid-19 symptoms will be prohibited from entering any of the buildings.

Mourners who are not immediate family will be encouraged to watch services via the internet.

The crematorium is also taking bookings no more than two weeks ahead, and is stopping double length services.

Bereavement services Manager Mark Drummond said: “We realise that the measures we are taking will cause families some distress as they won’t be able to say goodbye to their loved ones in the way they would like to.

“We hope that people will understand that we are having to take these unprecedented steps in order to prevent the spread of the virus and to ensure we have enough capacity for the sad and anticipated increase in the number of deaths over the coming few months.

“As the crisis develops, stricter measures may become necessary but we will try to act proportionately to the risks and demand on our services.”