Melbourne Greek woman left ‘heartbroken’ as armed police interrupt father’s funeral

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A woman in Victoria has been left “heartbroken” after armed uniformed police officers interrupted her Greek father’s funeral over the Easter long weekend, The Guardian reports.

Helen Kolovos, who buried her father on Saturday, says she was “inconsolable” after two police officers entered the church and began counting the number of people attending the funeral as her father’s coffin was carried down the aisle.

As part of the social distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, funerals have been strictly limited to 10 guests since March.

“Being from a Greek family it was already mission impossible to do that, but we did, we literally had to pick and choose our own family and say you can come, you can’t come,” Kolovos told the Guardian.

 Police were out over the Easter long weekend enforcing coronavirus social distancing laws, including interrupting a funeral in Victoria and moving on people at Bondi. Photograph: Joel Carrett/EPA

The Victorian police were out enforcing social distancing rules, after the state police force rapidly escalated the number of people fined for breaching public health orders.

“To see the police come in at that moment, it broke my heart into a million pieces,” Kolovos said.

While the Kolovos family were living in the same house, her family sat in separate pews during the service. Ms Kolovos added that she found it “totally disrespectful” for the two armed police officers to entered the church, just as her father’s coffin was being carried out.

“It was just totally disrespectful, to carry a gun in a Greek church, it’s totally against our religion. But the way they came in, they didn’t bow their heads or anything. They just started speaking to some of the people who were working in the church and taking notes as we’re carrying out my dad.

“Just pause what you’re doing for one moment, bow your head, just give that man a little shred of respect. I was inconsolable. That whole moment of farewelling my dad, that moment was taken away from me.”

 NSW police issued 155 breaches of public health orders over the Easter weekend. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Ms Kolovos says that she plans to give her father the send off he deserves at a later date, with all their family and friends present.

Helen’s daughter Benita Kolovos wrote on Tuesday that her papou was “a true gentleman and deserved better”.

“He worked hard, played fair, loved deeply and was incredibly kind to all people.”

Many people have expressed their outrage towards the fines, claiming they are being distributed for “unnecessary reasons”. Despite the fine being overruled, a $1600 fine was previously issued to a 17-year-old learner driver who was caught driving with her mum during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Mr Scott Morrison says this rule was “not an easy decision”.

“Sadly, also, and I know this will be very difficult, funerals to no more than 10 persons observing the rules around the four-square-metre rule and the social distancing practices,” he said.

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