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What kind of funeral can I arrange?

Funeral directors remain absolutely committed to supporting all bereaved people during this extended period of funeral restrictions, while minimising the risk of infection to both at-risk groups of mourners and to all those in key worker roles.

How many people can attend? 

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 a funeral

If you wish to visit a funeral home to arrange a funeral, then you will be required to wear a face covering in England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland, they are recommended unless the funeral home is able to maintain social distancing by using a system of ticketing or appointments.  You can also arrange a funeral over the phone or by email.

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

If you wish to view the deceased person by visiting the Chapel of Rest, please discuss this with your funeral director.

On the day

It is permitted to travel between tiers and between nations of the UK if you have been invited to attend a funeral. Please note, if you live in a tier 4 area and are going to a funeral or linked commemorative event outside the tier 4 area, the event must follow the tier 4 gathering limits on the events. If you live outside a tier 4 area and are going to a funeral or linked commemorative even inside the tier 4 area, you must comply with the tier 4 gathering limits on the events.

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 should be worn by passengers in funeral vehicles.

Face coverings are required during all indoor funeral services (including places of worship, burial ground chapels and crematoria) in England and Scotland. In Northern Ireland and Wales face coverings are recommended but not mandatory.

Webcasting/live streaming of the funeral service (using professional or personal devices) is available at most crematoria (or arranged through your funeral director)  – 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.

All charitable collections should be done online.

Further information

Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for further information.

The NAFD fully appreciates that, despite these changes, the current restrictions remain extremely tough for bereaved families. However, they are there to protect as many lives as possible and so it is important they continue to be adhered to.

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