Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Funerals
We are facing uncertain times as the coronavirus epidemic unfolds, and it is difficult to know the best way to say goodbye to the people we love in the current climate.
Whilst the government is still encouraging people to attend funerals, there are limits being placed on the number of people who can attend and how they should take place.
Below are details of how we are changing our services during the current crisis and recommended advice for clients.
Arranging a Funeral
Can I still go to a funeral?
You shouldn't attend a funeral if you are self-isolating because you think you have coronavirus, or if you think someone you live with might have it.
Can I still arrange a funeral?
Currently guidelines say that funerals should continue as normally as possible. However, families are being asked to consider restricting attendance to 'close family members' only to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to attendees and staff involved in the ceremony.
It is no longer appropriate to hold a gathering after the ceremony at any venue, including the family home.
Also, individual crematoriums may have their own guidance and this should be considered when arranging a funeral. They may also provide online broadcasting so mourners can watch the service without attending in person.
When arranging a funeral, you must consider the wider guidelines in place at the moment, including social distancing, good hand hygiene, avoiding physical contact and to be particularly mindful of those in at-risk groups (such as those over 70).
What do I need to think about when arranging a funeral?
When arranging a funeral at the moment, it's certainly worth considering the following:
- who you want to attend, being mindful of those in high-risk groups
- arranging service sheets as service books are unlikely to be available
- recording the eulogy on a phone or other recording device so those not in attendance can listen or watch at another time
- services may need to be shorter so the venue can be cleaned between services
- organising a celebration of life or memorial for a later date, when it's safe to do so
- social distancing requirements
- whether it's appropriate to have family members bearing the coffin
What changes on the day?
As well as the considerations above, there are certain things you should do on the day to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
- Wait outside in the car until you're asked to enter the building by the celebrant, chapel attendant or funeral director.
- Don't shake hands with anyone, including the minister, funeral director or other mourners.
- Bring hand sanitiser and use hygiene products made available at the venue.
- Allow staff to open and close doors to the service to restrict the number of people touching door handles.
- Numbers in the venue are likely to be limited. Stick to any assigned seating plans and keep your distance from other mourners.
- You may be advised not to touch the coffin as you leave the service.
What we are doing
As part of our planning, we are considering a range of infection control options in line with the latest advice. We are also working with partners, such as local crematoria and burial grounds, to ensure we comply with their coronavirus procedures.
If we find ourselves at further risk to health or spreading the infection or obligated by further legislation we may need to take some hard and uncomfortable decisions. However, we remain committed to caring for you and the people who have died as best as we can.
At the present time we have decided to:
- Limit the number of people who entering our premises - all funeral arrangements therefore will take place over the telephone, skype or other appropriate video tools.
- We will not be able to visit families in their homes or other venues.
- Before we collect the person who has died, we may ask you a series of questions related to coronavirus/COVID-19 and pneumonia to ensure we are best equipped to safely deal with your circumstances.
- Arrangements for signing paperwork will take place remotely either by post, electronically or by dropping papers through letterboxes. Please be assured we will help you through the correct completion of all paperwork.
- Spending time with the person who has died: we’re really sad that we can no longer enable such visits at our premises. It’s been a hard decision to make but we really need to take measures to protect our staff and the families we are looking after.
- We may be wearing additional personal protective equipment (PPE) even when the risk is deemed to be low.
- If the service was due to take place at a venue where live webcasting is available, then this may be a viable option. We will help to ensure this is implemented and in communicating the details to people via our website.
- We will not be able to bring a person home before a funeral at this period in time.
- We are no longer able to offer a limousine service. Families would therefore need to make their own way to the funeral service (assuming access is being allowed).
- We will take the coffin into the chapel or venue before all other guests.
Venues may cancel at short notice, or the rules may change about immediate family being able to attend. Under these circumstances we will make every effort to replace the ceremony with something meaningful, but it may be necessary to arrange a memorial service or thanksgiving ceremony at a later date.
As a business we pride ourselves on our ability to continue to treat you with care and compassion during these difficult circumstances.