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Latest guidance on funeral services

Attendance

In England, the maximum number is 30 (subject to the venue’s COVID-secure limit); in Scotland it’s 20 (subject to the venue’s COVID-secure limit);  in Northern Ireland it is 25; and in Wales it is subject to the venue’s COVID-secure limit.

In England only six people (not including staff) can attend an ashes scattering, ritual washing or other linked event or custom associated with a funeral during the lockdown period. In Scotland, wakes are prohibited on the mainland and the limit for other ceremonial events is 20, in a COVID-secure setting.

Lifting restrictions

The NAFD is extremely pleased that families will soon have the freedom to choose how many people to invite to a funeral once again, but we respect the need for caution.

Families have been incredibly brave throughout the pandemic – and funeral directors have worked hard to support them in creating smaller, personalised and meaningful services. While any loosening of restrictions will be welcomed, when it’s safe to do so, there will be uncertainty over the precise date when limits on funeral services, wakes and other linked events in the four UK nations will be lifted, for some time to come and so we urge families to work with their funeral director to say goodbye to a loved one within the restrictions, rather than seeking to delay until such time as they might be lifted.

England: There are no immediate changes to the thirty people permitted to attend a funeral – although in Step 2 of the roadmap (from 12 April 2021) it will be possible to have a wake, reception, ashes scattering or other linked event, for up to 15 people. Please note, 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. This guidance will apply until the lifting of lockdown reaches Step 3.

Scotland: The maximum number of people allowed to attend a funeral in Scotland will be increased to 50 from 26 April. This includes post-funeral events and wakes – with no alcohol permitted. Numbers are expected to increase again at the end of June, subject to “stakeholder engagement” and capacity constraints at venues.

Northern Ireland: From 12 April the 25-people limit at funerals will be eased, with venues able to decide how many guests they can safely accommodate in a COVID secure way.

Arranging the funeral

Managing a funeral – guidance

  • England: click here for updated full guidance published on 7 April 2021
  • Northern Ireland: Click here for guidance published on 22 December 2020
  • Wales: Click here for guidance published on 23 December 2020
  • Scotland: Click here for guidance published on 5 January 2021

For guidance on managing deceased and visiting bereaved families at home to arrange the funeral, please click here. 

On the day of the funeral

Many firms in England, Wales and Scotland have safely re-introduced limousines for bereaved clients, following guidance to ensure they can be used safely, including the use of perspex screens,  limiting the number travelling to ensure they can sit as far back as possible and additional cleaning. In Northern Ireland, limousines are not permitted for use. Face coverings must be worn by passengers in funeral vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales and are advised for drivers.

Face coverings are required during all indoor funeral services (including places of worship, burial ground chapels and crematoria)

Webcasting/live streaming of the funeral service (using professional or personal devices) is possible at most crematoria, or may be something you wish to arrange for your clients – thereby enabling other mourners to still participate without putting themselves and others at risk of harm.

Please don’t publicly advertise the funeral details to reduce the risk of other, well-meaning mourners arriving unexpectedly. This is not permitted under current social distancing laws and they may be turned away at the door, which could be distressing for them and the bereaved family. It will also place your employees at unnecessary risk of harm.

Check with the service venue as there may be other changes too.

All charitable collections should be done online.

Further information

England

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

Wales

https://gov.wales/guidance-funerals-covid-19

Northern Ireland

https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-guidance-surrounding-death

Scotland

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-funeral-services/

You may find our Frequently Asked Questions useful for further information.

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