Updated regulations in England and Wales exempt bereaved people who are symptomatic of, or have tested positive for, COVID-19 from being fined if they attend a funeral.
The NAFD and other members of the Deceased Management Advisory Group have urged the Government to reverse this decision but are advised that it may infringe human rights and so will remain in force. Individual funeral venues will not be able to override this at a local level.
However, the Government continues to urge symptomatic or COVID positive people not to attend in person but to take advantage of virtual opportunities, such as streaming facilities, instead. We are also expecting updated PHE guidance to make clear that there is a duty to inform funeral directors and funeral venues, prior to the funeral date, if they intend to attend the funeral.
Our advice to members is that you cannot, under the law, refuse attendance to COVID positive or symptomatic people. However, you can discourage attendance and highlight opportunities to attend virtually through the use of streaming or webcasting facilities.
We also advise you to work closely with families to ensure they are encouraged to notify you of any COVID positive or symptomatic person who wishes to attend the funeral – or indeed any other aspect of the bereavement process such as ritual washing or visiting the Chapel of Rest. This will enable you to brief the funeral venue – as well as take the appropriate precautions (e.g. distancing, PPE and cleaning) to protect your employees.
The Deceased Management Group is examining the operational implications for funeral, crematorium and cemetery staff.
We understand this may be unwelcome news and have made strong representations on your behalf. However, we are advised that this change will not be reversed and therefore you are advised to plan for this eventuality for future funerals.
The link to the relevant legislation is here (Section 2 (3) (b) (v)): https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1045/made