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Latest guidance on funeral services

Funeral directors remain absolutely committed to supporting all bereaved people at this very difficult time, while minimising the risk of infection to both at-risk groups of mourners and to all those in key worker roles.

England

Updated government guidance for funerals in England, released on 9 July:

    • allows both family and friends to attend a funeral (e.g. removal of limitation to close family/household only);
    • increases the number of people who can attend a funeral, up to 30 maximum in places of worship and private dwellings – even if venue capacity is higher. Business and venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host larger groups;
    • allows mourners to stay overnight outside their home. Mourners returning from overseas who quarantining may still attend the funeral; and
    • advises on the safe management of funeral venues, including keeping a note of attendance for Track and Trace purposes.

Scotland

On 10 July the Scottish Government announced that

  • Up to 20 people will be allowed to attend funerals from 15 July
  • Restrictions will be removed on the categories of people who could attend funerals, which has generally been limited to close family or people living in the same household only
  • The new rule does not apply to gatherings after, such as a wake, which remain subject to the rules that apply for all other indoor and outdoor gatherings.
  • The new 20 limit for funerals also remains subject to “strict rules” on the two-metre physical distancing.

Government guidance across all four nations also makes it clear that close families who are in high-risk categories or are self-isolating should be enabled to attend.

There may be additional restrictions in place at the service venue. Please check these in advance.

Wales

The most recent update to guidance in Wales was on 12 June:

People can attend a funeral in Wales if:

  • they are the person organising the funeral
  • they are invited to the funeral, or
  • they are the carer of a person who is attending the funeral (either because they are the organiser or they have been invited)

Everyone attending a funeral – whether at a crematorium, place of worship or cemetery – should take all reasonable measures to stay 2 metres away from someone they don’t live with or care for.

Each venue sets limits on the numbers able to attend the funeral within social distancing guidelines. Please check with the venues concerned.

Northern Ireland

The latest guidance in Northern Ireland states:

There is an increased risk of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) where families and communities come together following the death, from any cause, of a loved one. It is strongly advised that public health advice is followed to reduce the spread of infection.

Funeral services can be conducted in a place of worship or in a funeral home. The size and circumstances of the venue will determine the maximum number that can attend the service safely whilst observing social distancing of at least two metres, wherever possible.

It is recommended that face coverings are used for indoor services.

Arranging the funeral

Public Health England advice (published on 9 July) states that, if you are required to meet with the bereaved in their own home, but will not make direct contact with the deceased, PPE (including masks) are not required. However, you should:

  • maintain a safe distance (at least 2 metres)
  • on entry to the home, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds – where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used, and you should carry this with you at all times
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and wash your hands again when leaving the property.

If you wish to provide face coverings for your staff to wear during these meetings, then that is a choice you are free to make as a business – but please note it is not required or advised as necessary by official guidance.

If clients wish to visit you in the funeral home, then in England and Scotland they will be required to wear a face covering (in Scotland this is already in force, in England it becomes mandatory on 8 August).

Funerals should not be arranged in person if anyone involved has symptoms or should be self-isolating, in accordance with government advice.

If families wish to view the deceased person by visiting the Chapel of Rest, we suggest you arrange specific times and limit the numbers attending at any one time to those living in the same household. At-risk groups should be strongly urged not to visit.

On the day

Many firms have now 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.

Face coverings are required during all indoor funeral services (including places of worship, burial ground chapels and crematoria) in England and social distancing guidelines should be followed. In Scotland, you should wear a face covering when in a confined space and In Northern Ireland and Wales face coverings are recommended but not mandatory.

Webcasting/live streaming of the funeral service (using professional or personal devices) may still be possible – 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

The NAFD has produced a Risk Assessment Framework which funeral firms may find helpful in planning for gatherings at funerals.

Additional specific guidance for Wales

Additional specific guidance for Northern Ireland

Additional specific guidance for Scotland

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

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