Already struggling to properly store the high volume of bodies, Joseph Cornwall, CEO of House of Tranquillity, believes the ban on funerals and burials will further cripple his business.
Cornwall said that bodies stored at his facility are slowly decomposing in the morgue because “we don’t have the right storage”.
“We have to be buying ice from the Kingston ice making company to help keep the bodies cold. If we are going to import a storeroom, by the time we should put it through duty concessions, the bodies would have already been in a terrible state,” said Cornwall. On Sunday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a two-week ban on funerals and burials starting on March 8.
Cornwall believes there should have been more dialogue with operators.
“No government representatives are in dialogue with us as to the way forward and how we can do this thing. No one is asking about our needs and whether the facility we have can store the bodies coming in on a daily, nothing up to now. How are we supposed to deal with all the flies and roaches taking over our space?” Cornwall questioned. “We are trying our best but we are limited in scope. We’ve been limited on storage and have to be making do because we didn’t have a plan for this crisis and it is getting worse now.”
House of Tranquillity is the government-contracted funeral home and collects bodies of people who die at home from illnesses, or are victims of violence.
Cornwall said that although he is currently straining to keep afloat, he has to be lenient with relatives of the deceased.
“Due to the current situation which is not properly managed, we have more bodies to keep for a longer period of time and people who owe us money don’t bother to come in because they know funerals are out for the next month,” he said. “We are the ones absorbing all the cost because we can’t call the families and tell them to take the body because relatives are struggling financially too, and because we are in business, we try to operate within a way that people will want to use your services.”