Why is COVID-19 stopping me from visiting my dead relative?

The roads may have been traffic-free, in this coronavirus new normal, except for one place. 

The closed gate in front of Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, where dumfounded drivers tried to back up into the line of incoming vehicles packed with people visiting their loved ones’ graves.

“Why is it closed?” asked a flustered woman, maneuvering flowers in one hand, and a wiggly small dog on the other, as she tried to open the unbudging gate.

Here is how Rose Hills officials put it in writing to FOX 11:

“We are following the governor’s stay at home order, which has resulted in the temporary closure of Rose Hills to outside visitors. On any given day, thousands of people visit the park. At this time, we have limited the park only to families who wish to hold a graveside service with 10 or fewer people and giving the option of a memorial service at a later date. We are helping families who wish to preserve mementos left at their loved one’s final resting place by collecting those items and arranging for their return to their owners. We are working to ensure measures are in place to protect decedents, their families, our employees, and the community.”

“I get social distancing, but it’s not like we are on top of one another!” said a clearly exasperated young woman, who had just driven her mom, half a day, to visit grandpa.

At over 1400 acres, Rose Hills is larger than many of the parks people are showing up at, as LA County officials ask people to socially distance themselves while getting out for fresh air.

Still, they don’t want to take a chance. Even if Forest Lawn, up the street, has its gates wide open. They are interpreting the exemption allowing funeral workers to work, to include (like Rose Hills) graveside funerals of less than 10, and (unlike Rose Hills) visits to graves sites. It’s a matter of interpretation. 

We will update you if anything changes.