Preparations for a public ceremony at Tomlinson’s land will start immediately to allow for burials at the site.
The Cabinet agreed on Wednesday to begin burials at Tomlinson’s once the land is fenced and the plans for graves and buildings are finished.
Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister Lionel Max Hurst said the St. John’s Public Cemetery cannot accommodate burials unless they take place in family member graves, and the cemetery near the Lady of the Valley Church is almost full.
“The public cemetery has filled up, and burials can only take place if the cadaver is placed in a grave occupied by a family member or the remains of a family member…the cemetery being utilized next to it is reaching capacity fairly quickly. We have about 600 deaths a year, some years a little more; the idea is being able to accommodate that many cadavers each year,” Hurst explained.
Furthermore, Hurst explained that families do not support removing the dead from St John’s and burring them in the rural districts. To address this, he said cremation will become an option, with regulations to be adopted by the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda to ensure certain standards are met at the new Tomlinson’s Cemetery.
Hurst said the Cabinet wants to ensure headstones are used and standardized to create a respectful burial place for loved ones. The Ministry of Works is responsible for fencing the land and completing preparatory work before burials begin.
“We are moving ahead with burials at Tomlinson’s…Maybe by the end of the year, after the fence has been constructed…” he added