Statement from representatives of the British funeral, crematoria and burial sector
(The National Association of Funeral Directors, Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, Cremation Society and the Association of Private Cemeteries and Crematoria)
The government has today (17 March 2020) met with representative bodies from the funeral, crematoria and burial sector regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. Requests for support with access to equipment that is in scarce supply, and the need for additional advice and support as the situation develops, were taken on board. As a result of that meeting, the signatories to this statement have decided to offer the following advice.
The key outcome is that funerals should continue, as normally as possible, for now – but take into account all of the guidelines issued by government for minimising the risk of transmission. This includes the need to protect at-risk groups, to avoid large gatherings of people, for good hand hygiene and the avoidance of unnecessary physical contact. This is not only for the benefit of those attending funerals, it also supports the urgent need to protect funeral home, crematorium and cemetery employees, who need to remain healthy and able to support bereaved families at this critical time.
In consultation with their local crematoria and cemeteries, Funeral homes and families should assess each funeral individually and consider whether it might mean smaller numbers of people and organising a celebration of life or memorial service planned for a later date. Alternatives such as webcasting may enable other mourners to participate. This is a fast evolving situation and guidance may well need to change again in the near future. The focus for day-to-day communication will be local resilience forums, with which funeral, crematoria and burial organisations are working closely, across the country.