Having now reviewed the draft regulations, which were passed in a vote today in Parliament, and received assurances from the Cabinet Office on certain key points, the arrangements for funerals to remain largely unchanged during the England lockdown (beginning tomorrow, 5 November).
Having had to adapt to many and frequent changes in recent months, this consistency is very welcome as it reduces uncertainty for funeral directors and bereaved people.
- Up to 30 can attend a funeral service (subject to the COVID-secure limit of the chosen venue)
- Funeral homes can remain open to facilitate funeral arrangements, visits to chapels of rest etc. (subject to individual business COVID-secure practices)
- Attending a funeral is considered a reasonable excuse to leave home and hotels may provide accommodation to mourners to enable them to travel to attend a funeral.
In terms of wakes and receptions, while the guidance that up to 15 people may attend a COVID-secure commemorative event (also including ritual washing, stone setting, ashes scattering and other customs) remains in place, they may not be held in a private home due to the no household mixing rule and there is no exemption for hospitality venues to reopen to host them.
We are seeking more clarification on the practical implications of this, but the aim of the lockdown is to minimise any contact between households in order to reduce transmission of the virus and so, while it remains important that immediate family can be there to say goodbye at the funeral service, all other aspects of honouring the life of someone who has died should be undertaken virtually, or at a later date, wherever possible.
We are expecting updated Public Health England guidance shortly. In the meantime, the regulations can be accessed via this link.