Important News Concerning the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 28, 2020

Mount Auburn is closely monitoring the coronavirus pandemic and is following the protocols outlined by the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  As of March 30th, the Cemetery will be closed, except for burial services, until 4PM every day. We will open the Mount Auburn Street Gate between 4-6PM each day to provide an opportunity for families to visit the graves of their loved ones.

Please continue to check this page before planning a trip to the Cemetery. We will continue to update this page with announcements about any further changes to our daily operations.



A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT & CEO

Dear Mount Auburn Cemetery Community,

On March 13th we implemented several changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect our staff, volunteers, members, visitors, and clients. Our Visitors Center, Chapels, Greenhouse, and Administrative Offices have since been closed to the general public. We cancelled public programs. We suspended all memorial services and postponed the scheduling of pre-need sales appointments until further notice. Despite these other changes, we have continued to assist families at their critical time of need by providing essential burial and cremation services.

Until now, our grounds have also remained open to the public between 8 AM and 6 PM each day to provide a much-needed place of comfort, tranquility and inspiration to all. It has been wonderful to see so many people appreciating and utilizing Mount Auburn in this way.

I am sorry to say that we can no longer remain open to the public. We are facing a public health crisis and the health and safety of our staff as well as our entire community must take priority. As of March 30, the Cemetery will be closed, except for burial services, until 4:00 PM every day. We will open the Mount Auburn Street Gate between 4:00 and 6:00 PM each day to provide an opportunity for families to visit the graves of their loved ones.

With our gates closed for much of the day, our staff will be able to safely provide essential cemetery services and maintain our grounds even during this pandemic. Rest assured that they will be working in small crews and abiding by all social distancing and safety protocols. Our staff that can work remotely will remain working from home to carry out the many important tasks that prepare us for the year ahead.

We look forward to welcoming visitors for their daily walks once we have flattened the curve and can safely allow everyone back to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Mount Auburn. In the meantime, please stay tuned for our April e-newsletter, where we will announce virtual opportunities for staying connected to the Cemetery this spring. We will also continue to communicate updates and changes to our daily operations on our website.

Best wishes,

Dave Barnett
President & CEO, Mount Auburn Cemetery



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why did you close the gates?

The gates are closed until 4 pm every day due to the public health crisis of Covid-19 and to protect the health and safety of our staff as well as our entire community. We are an essential business, performing burials and cremations every day. With the return of spring, our landscape requires daily maintenance by a staff of grass mowers, gardeners, and arborists.  Closing our gates means that this work can be done by our staff in a space where the chances of community spread have been drastically reduced.

Since March 16th, most of our staff have been working remotely with only a very small on-site staff, mostly those performing burials and cremations, reporting for on-site duties.  The return of spring means an increase in landscape maintenance work which can only be completed if we can safely bring more staff back to the Cemetery.  It is our responsibility to provide the staff with a safe working environment and in the case of our horticulture staff, the work environment is our landscape.   

As COVID-19 deaths continue to increase in our area, we also anticipate a much higher demand for our cremation and burial services.  During the hours that we are closed to the public we are providing access to the Cemetery for all families needing use of our services.  Restricting public access to the Cemetery is not only a measure to protect our staff as they perform critical and essential work but also a way of protecting those who come to the Cemetery to say goodbye to a loved one. 


But we need the grounds for walking now more than ever! 

We understand that the decision to close the grounds for most of the day was very disappointing to our members, visitors, and neighbors.  We kept our gates open all day for as long as we could. But, as other greenspaces in the area closed for justifiable reasons, Mount Auburn became saturated with visitors, many who were visiting us for the first time and who did not understand the sacred nature of our landscape. Policing visitor activity made conditions increasingly unsafe for our staff working on the grounds.  

As we bring more staff back to work in the landscape and prepare for a higher volume of cremations and burials, we felt it necessary to restrict passive, recreational use of the Cemetery during the hours in which we complete essential functions. Our interment, horticulture, and preservation staff are done with their workday by 4PM.  It is once they have left the grounds for the day that we can provide public access to the landscape. This public access is primarily to provide the families of those buried here with the opportunity to visit the graves of their loved ones.  

We do hope that this closure is temporary.  Some reports indicate that social distancing is helping to reduce the rate of infection, but it is too soon to know for certain. Once we have successfully flattened the curve, which will take all of us working together, we will reopen our gates for general public enjoyment.   


Are your staff still working and being paid? 

Yes. We implemented the “Extreme Measures” phase of our Pandemic Plan on March 16th. Since then, all our nearly 100 full- and part-time employees have been paid for their normal hours at their normal pay rate. More than 30 of our employees are working remotely from home and our intention is to have them continue working from home for as long as necessary. And any staff that were asked to stay home but unable to work from home were still paid for their normal shifts. Those that do need to be on site to complete their responsibilities are working in smaller crews and abiding by all social distancing and safety protocols.   

We have staff now caring for small children, who are home from school, and family members with pre-existing health conditions. The Cemetery’s Executive Leadership, with full support from the Board of Trustees, is working creatively and compassionately to understand every staff situation and support our valued staff in every way possible.  


Can I come from 4 – 6 pm even if I’m not visiting a grave? 

This time is reserved especially for those who wish to visit a loved one’s grave. Grave site visitors will be allowed to enter the Cemetery in cars or on foot. If you plan to visit during these hours, please respect our rules and practice social distancing guidelines. If it gets too crowded as spring bloom arrives and temperatures rise, we may have to close completely. 


Are restrooms available when I visit? 

Right now, all our buildings are closed to the public, including the restrooms. 


I can’t come to the Cemetery during your open hours. Can you let me in another time? 

To protect our staff and those attending burial services, we are not permitting any visitors outside of the hours of 4 – 6 pm.  If you would like us to send a photo of a loved one’s grave to you, please email info@mountauburn.org


How do I place flowers on a grave? 

You’re welcome to come between 4 – 6 pm to place flowers at a grave. Our Greenhouse is currently closed to the public so you will have to purchase flowers elsewhere.  You can also order a floral tribute through our website and our staff will place a tribute at the lot, grave, or niche specified with your order.  


How do I find a grave location? 

You can use the burial searchon our website or the mobile burial search to locate graves. 


How do I schedule a burial or cremation? 

The Administration Office is closed to the public, but we continue to staff the office for core Cemetery business.  If you need assistance with a burial or cremation, contact us at 617-547-7105 or info@mountauburn.org.  At this time, we are only performing casket burials. Cremation burials will resume when the spread of the virus is contained. 


Are you still doing public programs? 

In-person public programs are suspended until further notice.  But keep an eye on the events calendar for some virtual program opportunities!  And look at our suggested ways to virtually enjoy Mount Auburn. 


When will you reopen? 

At this time we don’t know when it will be safe to reopen to our full hours.  Please check the website and subscribe to our e-newsletter for updates. 



ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

GENERAL VISITATION

The Grounds: The Grounds are closed to the public from 8AM to 4PM. The Gates are open from 4PM to 6PM daily to allow families to visit the graves of loved ones.

All buildings including the Visitors Center, the Greenhouse, the Chapels, the public restrooms, and Washington Tower are closed to the public. Maps and general information remain available at the Entrance Gate and visitors can use our burial search or mobile burial search to locate graves.


PUBLIC PROGRAMS & EVENTS

Public Programs: While our gates are closed for general public use, all programs will be cancelled.  Please see our events calendar for additional information.

Citizen Science Program: All upcoming Citizen Science Training sessions are postponed, email pkwiatkowski@mountauburn.org to be notified when they are rescheduled.


CEMETERY BUSINESS

Administrative Office: The Administration Office is closed to the public, but we continue to staff the office for core Cemetery business.  If you need assistance with a burial or cremation, contact us at 617-547-7105 or info@mountauburn.org.

Sales: Our staff is available, by appointment, to assist families with the purchase of burial space if a death has occurred or is imminent. Until further notice, we will not be scheduling pre-need sales appointments.  

Burial Services: At this time, we are performing casket burials. Cremation burials will resume when the spread of the virus is contained.

Cremation Services: At this time, we continue to perform cremations.

Memorial Services: In accordance with the call for more social distancing we have suspended the use of our chapels for memorial services and will not be scheduling any witness cremations until further notice.

Funeral Directors: See more details about our current operations here>>.



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