Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust latest statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Life, Death and the Rest) logo 2018
Life, Death (and the Rest) 2020
February 25, 2020
Anglican Chapel at Arnos Vale Cemetery
Wash your hands: historical edition
March 26, 2020

Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust latest statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated 15:30, 27 May

From Monday 1st June we will be opening the Bath Road vehicle and pedestrian gate from 10am -2pm on weekdays for mourners visiting graves or the Gardens of Rest. You will no longer need to make an appointment to gain access with your car. All other gates and buildings, including the toilets will remain closed.

When you are on site please remember that your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods. Here is the guidance about staying safe outside your home. We are an active cemetery and funerals may be taking place when you visit, please remain respectful to those friends and family that have lost a loved one in these challenging times.

Bristol City Council cemeteries are also open for funerals and visiting graves. They ask that they are not used for exercise.

If you tidy up a grave avoid putting green waste in the bin, either take it to your home compost or place in an overgrown area in the cemetery to naturally decompose. The tap is available for you to use; however, we suggest that you bring along your own water in a reusable container to avoid any cross contamination.

We realise that some of you would like to visit Arnos Vale for leisure; but at the moment keeping mourners and our small team safe is still our top priority.  Please continue to respect us as we take difficult decisions to balance Government guidance, local communities’ perspectives, and the needs of our mourners. Thank you for your patience and support.

Updated 11:30, 12 May

Yesterday the Government outlined the move to Phase 2 of the response to COVID-19. Following the recent announcements there are no changes to the funeral service restrictions in the UK. For more information go to the National Association of Funeral Directors website 

The Bath Road pedestrian gate is open for mourners visiting graves from 10am – 2pm, Monday – Friday.

Updated 16:00, 28 April

We are currently open for burials, graveside funerals and mourners. From Thursday we will be opening the Bath Road pedestrian gates from 10am – 2pm on weekdays for those wishing to visit graves of their loved ones. People with access issues are welcome to contact us so that we can facilitate their visit. We will be closed on weekends and Bank Holidays. The buildings and toilets will remain closed.

Bristol City Council have recently shared an update from Mayor Marvin Rees, who said:

“We are aiming to reopen council run cemeteries and crematorium this week… on restricted hours….we are doing this specifically for people who want to visit the graves of their loved ones, because we recognise that the temporary restrictions have had an impact…..grieving goes beyond the funeral itself. So, I’m asking people, please respect those spaces for those people who are going to mourn and remember their loved ones. If it’s for exercise purposes please use our parks, because it will free up the cemeteries for those visitors”

You can see the latest from Bristol City Council here

Rest assured that we are constantly reviewing the situation and will continue to keep you updated on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Take care and stay safe.

Updated 15:00, 20 April

Thank you again for your messages of support, we really appreciate them. We are aware of the statement from Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, issued on 18th April. This statement is about council run cemeteries, and therefore not directly relevant to us as an independent charity.

This statement came as a surprise; we are a small team, two thirds of who are now furloughed and the remaining individuals are focusing on keeping the cemetery running for burials. Because we are a working cemetery this means that our amazing team are key workers and we must put in place procedures which allow us to function at what may potentially become a busy time. We don’t currently have the resources to open our gates safely to all. We are working with Bristol City Council and currently awaiting more guidance.

Below is an extract from the Communities Secretary statement. If you’d like to read it in full you can see it here

“For clarity – funerals can go ahead with close family present.

Social distancing measures must be respected, but families must have the opportunity to say a respectful goodbye to those that they love.

We will be publishing more guidance on this shortly. And I’m also asking councils to keep open or indeed reopen cemeteries and graveyards. Not for people to congregate in. That must not happen. But for people to make that private visit. To seek solace in a word at the grave of someone you have loved. Or to privately lay flowers”

We understand that many people love using Arnos Vale as a park, but first and foremost we are a cemetery.

We continue to be open for burials, graveside funerals and for those that may wish to pay respects to loved ones. If you would like to visit a grave please email to arrange an appointment, or call us on 0117 9719117.

We know how much people value the site for recreation and leisure and we are working hard to ensure that we can be back up and running as soon as it is safe to do so.  We really do look forward to welcoming everyone back.

Updated 16:00, 10 April
A letter from our CEO, Ellie Collier: I hope that you all are keeping as well and safe as can be during these exceptional times.  As you are probably aware, following government advice and information from Bristol City Council we made the difficult decision to close our gates. All tours and events which were scheduled to take place have been cancelled or postponed.  We are currently open for booked burials only. We really value your support during these incredibly difficult times and look forward to opening our gates again, when it’s safe to do so.

In recent years, Arnos Vale has grown stronger and stronger, with support from you all. Through your support we were able to be entrepreneurial and create 54 different income streams, all of which were put back directly into preserving and enhancing Arnos Vale. We are extremely proud of what has been achieved to keep this magical, special place alive. Unfortunately only 4 of these streams are currently operational. Our income has been hugely hit by the Coronavirus pandemic and now we need to work together to look after this site, our staff and volunteers.

We’re going to need everyone’s help to ensure that when Arnos Vale reopens its gates it does so with confidence and hope. Every donation – no matter how big or small – will help us to achieve this. If you can, please make a donation here.
The United Nations have stated that there are four key qualities we should reach for in times of crisis: kindness, generosity, empathy, and solidarity. Over the last 3 weeks it’s these qualities that we have embedded into all that we do. We will be sharing stories, videos and blogs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as being here to support you if you need us.

Please be assured that we remain committed to caring for your loved one, your family and you during these uncertain times. Our team are doing an amazing job working hard to ensure that we can be back up and running as soon as it is safe.  We are hopeful that we will be able to share details of our future work and events sometime soon. 

Happy Easter and a huge thanks from the whole team.


Updated 16:00, 1 April

Thank you so much for your recent messages of support. We would have loved to keep our gates open for leisure activities, but first and foremost we are a working cemetery. Public safety and the safety of our staff must be our first concern. Because we are a working cemetery this means that our amazing small team are key workers and we must put in place procedures which allow us to function at what may potentially become a busy time.

We are currently open for booked burials only. We know how important a funeral service can be and we are looking for solutions to maintain or create a new way of arranging these so that everyone can have the service or celebration of life that they deserve. Please rest assured that we remain committed to caring for your loved one, your family and you during these uncertain times. For more information about what we can  offer please click here

Updated 22:00, 23 March

From this evening we’ve all been asked to stay at home to help save lives. Following the latest government advice we’ve made the difficult decision to lock our gates. We really value your support during these incredibly difficult times and look forward to opening our gates again, when it’s safe to do so. If you need to contact us please call or send an email. Love from the Arnos Vale team x

Updated 16:00, 22 March

Yesterday we closed all our buildings until further notice. Our aim is to open our gates every day, however we urgently request people to stay local, observe social distancing and to not travel. Please help us to help restrict the spread of coronavirus.

If you’d like to talk to us about any of our services, please call 0117 9719117 or email

Updated 13:00, 20 March

With Mother’s Day and good weather forecast for the weekend, we are urging people to avoid unnecessary travel and follow government guidelines on social gatherings.

Our gates and site will be open as usual, however the Spielman Centre hall, Anglican Chapel, shop and crypt will be closed at the end of today. At present the Cleverchefs cafe remains open, also the Spielman toilets. Our Books of Remembrance in the West Lodge will be available to see until Sunday at 4pm.

All of our events until the end of May have been postponed or cancelled.

The Friends Forum planned for Sunday 29th March has been cancelled. If you had planned to ask a question please email the Friends at

We are still a working cemetery: click here if you would like to know more about our Cemetery Services

Updated 10:00, 17 March

The latest Government guidelines are as follows:

There are a number of social distancing measures to reduce the risk of infection from the spread of coronavirus. For those who remain well, are under 70 or do not have an underlying health condition, they are advised to limit their social contact where possible, including using less public transport, working at home and considering not going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and bars.

Government has taken the further measure of asking whole households to isolate because it is likely that people living with others will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.

For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, they are strongly advised against these activities and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.

At present the Cleverchefs cafe on site remains open. Tours will be postponed until further notice.

Updated: 15:00, 16 March

We recognise that we are in the ‘delay’ phase, which may require us to respond to specific recommendations from the Government. We are monitoring this eventuality closely and will make changes to our operations as and when required.

Updated: 13:00, 11 March 2020

We know that there is lots of discussion and concern about the potential effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We will be following Government guidelines and aiming to maintain normal business for as long as possible. We have asked our staff, volunteers and visitors to regularly wash their hands and to call the NHS number 111 or refer to the NHS website for advice if they feel unwell. We are ensuring that there is soap at every sink on site and encouraging people to wash their hands with soap and water. At present there are no government ordered bans on live events, public meetings or any other gatherings.

Keeping you updated

We’ll be keeping our social media channels and website updated as and when guidance and information changes.

Latest government information on coronavirus can be found on the Department for Health and Social Care’s website.

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