While funerals have been excluded from the ban on events taking place, announced on the evening of 23 March 2020, it is absolutely vital that funeral services abide by the objectives set out in the Government’s guidance and do not create an unnecessary risk of transmitting COVID-19 between those in attendance.

A group of seven organisations representing the funeral, burial and cremation sector, including the National Association of Funeral Directors, have issued joint guidance on the number of mourners attending funerals following the Government’s announcement on limiting attendance to immediate family only. 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, it is recommended that funeral services consider limiting attendees to members of the immediate family who are not in any of the high-risk categories and are not self-isolating. The immediate family being:

Children (and partners)

Limiting attendees must be done sensitively and taking into account individual circumstances. For example, if the deceased person had few, if any immediate, relatives but close a friend wished to attend the service, that would be reasonable – or in the case of the death of a grandparent, attendance by the grandchildren would be appropriate.

Other advice:

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 you wish to view the deceased person by visiting the Chapel of Rest, please make arrangements with your funeral director for specific times and limit the numbers attending at any one time to those living in the same household. At-risk groups are strongly urged not to visit.

We recommend that limousines are only used if there is no alternative option. If used, they 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 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. They may be turned away at the door, which could be distressing for them and the bereaved family. It will also place funeral key workers 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. Refrain from making physical contact with anyone outside of your household.

All charitable collections should be done online.

We understand this advice may be very difficult for families, and will do everything we can to help you say goodbye – and perhaps plan a celebration of the person’s life in the months to come – but it is vitally important we respect Government guidance for social distancing, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.