‘Extremely scary’ or respectful? Wave of cancelations and closures for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral is drawing fire for stopping daily British life
Britain is in an official state of mourning after Queen Elizabeth II passed away last week.
Huge crowds have gathered to catch a glimpse of the late monarch’s coffin, which was moved from Buckingham Palace to London’s Westminster Hall on Wednesday, where it will remain until her funeral on Monday.
With the day of the funeral being declared a public holiday, many businesses have said they will close their doors for the day—but the disruption to daily life won’t end there.
“Non-urgent” hospital appointments, some flights and school classes will also be canceled as organizations try to allow staff to pay their respects to the late monarch.
Here’s a round up of what Brits won’t be able to access on Monday.
The short-notice holiday has sparked frustration over widespread cancelations from public healthcare providers, with hospitals across the U.K. postponing “non-urgent” consultations and procedures, including maternity appointments, surgeries and some cancer treatments.
“Our services will be reduced to allow staff and patients to pay their respects to Her Majesty and commemorate her reign,” Bradford Teaching Hospitals—which oversees six hospitals in northern England—said in a statement. “We are working hard to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum but due to the bank holiday, some planned activity, including surgery, out-patient appointments and day cases, will be cancelled.”
The trust added that all of its urgent and emergency services would continue as normal.
Many of those with appointments have been left in limbo, with some either being given no alternative slot or still waiting to be told if their appointment will go ahead.
Frustrated patients have taken to Twitter to air their irritation with the cancelation of their appointments, with one person calling the closures “scary and sad,” while a U.S. epidemiologist dubbed the move “the stupidest thing ever.”
One woman based in Essex, England, had her antenatal mental health appointment on Monday rescheduled, but was told her new appointment could be delayed if other appointments run over their allotted timeslots.
“I have a history of eating disorders and have been struggling with antenatal depression,” she told Fortune. “I’ve been very upset about my appointment being canceled—I had it in my diary for three weeks and had been relying on it. My pregnancy is high risk and extremely scary. I only have six to seven weeks left of my pregnancy, so any delays are stressful.”
Another woman who was due to have a maternity checkup on Monday, but had it postponed due to the Queen’s funeral, told Fortune the cancelation was concerning because she had a high-risk pregnancy and a high chance of developing gestational diabetes.
On Tuesday, she received a text message that told her the “sad news” of the Queen’s death and the resulting public holiday meant her appointment would be canceled, with a new appointment set to be organized “in due course.”
The woman has since been given a new appointment, but said she did not understand why a holiday meant hospital appointments were being canceled.
“I can only imagine how people with more serious conditions are feeling about this,” she said.
Dr. Julia Patterson, founder and CEO of advocacy group Every Doctor said healthcare workers would be “damned if they do and damned if they don’t.”
“I am certain that if NHS staff had failed to observe this occasion they’d be attacked,” she said in a tweet. “[But] if they take the bank holiday it leads to problems.”
The cancelations of appointments on Monday comes as a record 6.8 million people are waiting to receive NHS treatment, after the pandemic exacerbated an existing waiting list problem in Britain’s public health service.
Education and childcare
Schools and colleges will be closed on Monday, while many nurseries and pre-schools will also not be opening.
Universities will also be closed, with many higher education institutions saying they are canceling operations for the day to allow staff and students to mourn.
A wide array of British retailers have also said they plan to close to the public on Sept. 19.
Supermarket giants Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and will be closed, while Asda will not open until 5 p.m.
During the national mourning period—which will end after the funeral on Monday—Morrisons has also turned down the “beep” sound on its cash registers and stopped playing music in its stores.
Grocery retailers Tesco and Sainsbury’s will keep their large stores closed and open their convenience stores at 5 p.m., with both retailers planning to open some of their stores in central London earlier in the day to cater to people traveling to the capital to pay their respects to the Queen.
Department store chain John Lewis will not open its stores on Monday, while clothing stores Primark and Jack Wills have also announced they will be closed.
Homeware stores Ikea, Homebase and B&Q, videogame chain Game and pet store giant Pets at Home are also among the major retailers that will not open on the public holiday.
Flights and transport
Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said on Thursday that there would be restrictions on the airspace above and around London in the coming days. The organization noted that it would be unlikely that travelers would receive compensation for canceled flights, as cancelations would be caused by “circumstances outside of the airline’s control.” However, airlines should offer alternative travel arrangements, the CAA said.
On Wednesday, London’s Heathrow Airport canceled flights to ensure they did not disturb the Queen’s coffin procession as it was moved from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.
Drone flights above central London have also been banned in the lead-up to the Queen’s funeral.
Mourners hoping to head into London to pay their last respects to the late monarch have been warned to expect “unprecedented” demand for transport and in train stations, with hundreds of thousands reportedly expected to make the journey.
While capacity on train networks around London is expected to increase to allow people to travel to the capital on the day of the funeral, many local bus operators will run reduced services on Monday.
Most of the U.K.’s large movie theater chains, including Odeon, Showcase and Cineworld, will be closed on Monday.
Cinema operators Vue, Curzon and Arc will use their theaters to screen the Queen’s funeral to the public for free.
Bowling alley operator Hollywood Bowl will be closed until 1:30 p.m., while PureGym—which runs 320 gyms across the U.K.—will close its sites between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday.
Many local libraries will also be closed on the public holiday.
Meanwhile, Centreparcs—which runs woodland lodge-style vacation camps—landed itself in a PR disaster when it revealed it planned to kick holidaymakers out of its sites for the day on Monday.
After a furious backlash, the company backtracked—somewhat—saying it would allow people already on vacation to stay, but anyone due to arrive on Monday has been told to delay their arrival until Tuesday, a move that invited more criticism.
Postal service and courier company Royal Mail—which was founded by Henry VIII in 1516 and claims to be one of the oldest organizations in the world—will suspend its services on the day of the Queen’s funeral.
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