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 April 12, 2021.
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, you will need to contact your local funeral director as they may be operating an appointment system or making arrangements on the phone or via other electronic means. In accordance with government advice, Funerals should not be arranged in person by anyone who has coronavirus symptoms or should be self-isolating.
How many people can attend a funeral?
In England, the government has advised 30 people can now attend a funeral. This number does not include anyone working at the event. 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.
At Step 2 from 12 April, the number permitted to attend religious, belief-based or commemorative events following a person’s death, such as stone setting ceremonies, the scattering of ashes or a wake, has increased to up to 15 people. This number applies both indoors and outdoors and does not include anyone working at the event.
In Wales, there’s no set limit on how many people can attend a funeral. Crematoriums and places of worship have an individual capacity depending on the size of the building. The legal requirement is that reasonable measures are taken to ensure a two metre distance is kept between those attending. This means a distance of two metres between members of different households, rather than between each individual person in the same household.
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’.
Can I hold a wake?
Post-funeral gatherings or wakes are allowed in some areas in the UK.
In England, wakes and post-funeral gatherings are allowed in groups of no more than 15 people with attendees adhering to social distancing guidelines. This will only apply to gatherings which take place at a COVID secure outdoor hospitality venue, or other venue permitted to open for this purpose, such as a community centre or place of worship. The rule of six/two households will still apply to gatherings in private gardens and there should be no household mixing indoors.
In Wales and Scotland, wakes and post-funeral gatherings are not permitted at this time.
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.