We understand that it is a very disconcerting time for everyone. The Coronavirus pandemic has set a number of challenges for bereaved families who are having to arrange funeral service for their loved one’s. 

The following guidance has been developed by the government in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive and the Deceased Management Advisory Group, which represents the funeral, cremation and burial sector. As the situation continues to change rapidly, this guidance remains under review and may be updated in line with the changing situation as required.  The following information is accurate as of August 7, 2020. 

Can funerals still take place? 

Yes. Funerals can still be arranged and are taking place. The UK government is clear that funerals must continue. Attending the funeral of a loved one plays an important role in helping bereaved families through the grieving process and not being able to attend can have an impact on long-term health and wellbeing.

How do I arrange a funeral during the pandemic?

Whilst funeral homes are open, funerals should be arranged over the phone or via other electronic means, wherever possible. In accordance with government advice, Funerals should not be arranged in person by anyone who has coronavirus symptoms or should be self-isolating. 

Public Health England advice (published on 31 July) states that if funeral directors are to meet you in your home to arrange the funeral, they do not need to wear a mask provided they will not also be coming into contact with the person that has died. However, you will need to maintain a safe distance of at least 2 metres. 

How many people can attend a funeral?

In England, the government has advised 30 people can now attend a funeral. However, this guidance could change if your area goes into ‘local lockdown’.  Individual crematoriums, cemeteries and places of worship may have to decrease this number based on their facilities and ability to maintain social distancing. Check with your funeral director as an online streaming service may be available so mourners can watch the service online without attending in person.

In Wales, government advice is that attendance should be kept to a minimum and social distancing guidance must be followed.

In Scotland, it is advised that 20 people can attend a funeral and services and are no longer limited to close family. Again, the number may be lower if the venue is smaller and safe social cannot be observed for 20 people. This guidance could change if your area goes into ‘local lockdown’.

Who can attend a funeral?

It is advised only a modest number of family and friends of the deceased should travel to and attend the funeral. It is up to you who you would like to invite to a funeral, as long as the number of people attending doesn’t break government guidelines. Your funeral director will be able to advise you on how many people can attend where you are.

Unless you live in the same household or are in a support bubble, mourners should always stay 2 metres apart from each other.

Do I need to wear a face covering during the funeral service?

Face coverings are required during all indoor funeral services (including places of worship, burial ground chapels and crematoria) in England and Scotland. In Northern Ireland and Wales face coverings are recommended but not mandatory.

Can I visit my loved one in a chapel of rest?

Spending time with your loved one in a chapel of rest is still possible, but it is vital that you make the arrangements beforehand. Once you have agreed a time to visit with your funeral director, be very careful to only visit with others living in the same household or support bubble. If you are in an at-risk group, you are strongly advised not to make a visit.

Can I attend a funeral if my area is in local lock down?

On 31 July, the Government confirmed that funeral services can still take place in England, where there is a local lock down, with a maximum of 30 people, subject to COVID-19 secure guidelines. We advise you speak to your local funeral provider if your area is in local lock down for specific information. 

You may find the following links useful:

Government Guidance  – https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

National Association of Funeral Directors – https://nafdcovid19.org.uk/advice-for-the-public/

Cruse Bereavement Care – https://www.cruse.org.uk/coronavirus/funerals

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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