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Latest guidance on funeral services

Funerals play an important and central role in the grieving process for many families. However, during these extremely challenging times the transmission of the coronavirus at funeral gatherings to the elderly, frail, those in vulnerable groups along with funeral directors and crematorium staff cannot be overlooked.

In line with Government guidance, funeral services should therefore only be attended by members of the immediate family who are not in any of the high-risk categories and are not self-isolating. No specific number has been set by the Government. Only the following people should attend:

  • members of the person’s household
  • close family members
  • if the deceased has neither household or family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number of friends to attend

This remains unchanged following publication of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy on 11 May 2020.

No specific number has been set by the Government (other than in Northern Ireland, where the Department for Justice has recommended 10) but venue managers may set maximum numbers based upon the ability of each mourners to observe social distancing guidelines.

Government guidance 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.

Funerals should be arranged over the phone or via other electronic means, wherever possible. If a funeral must be arranged in person, please respect the social distancing guidance – keep two metres apart, wash hands frequently, and cough or sneeze into a tissue/crook of your elbow and limit the number of people attending in person to arrange the funeral.

Do not arrange a funeral in person if anyone involved has symptoms or should be self-isolating, in accordance with government advice. It is vital that we do all we can to reduce the spread of the virus and that funeral service employees (who are key workers) can remain healthy and able to continue supporting bereaved families.

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.

Limousines should only be used if there is no alternative option. Some funeral firms have now withdrawn them from use, because of the risk of infection spreading inside the vehicle. If used, each vehicle should only be used to carry those living in the same household (in line with social distancing guidance). The driver must be able to abide by social distancing guidelines too, keeping glass screens up and limiting the number travelling to ensure they can sit as far back as possible. 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.

During the service, all mourners should remain two metres apart from anyone not living in their household at all times.

Check with the service venue as there may be other changes too. For example, the gardens may be closed and the curtains may not be able to remain open during the service.

All charitable collections should be done online.

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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