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Arranging a funeral – coronavirus advice

Arranging or attending a funeral is a very personal and emotional time and knowing what to do at the moment can be tricky. So, what should you do during the coronavirus outbreak? 

Can I still go to a funeral?

Yes, under the new national restrictions, you can still attend a funeral or a linked ceremonial event, such as a wake, stone setting, or the sprinkling of someone's ashes. 

However, you shouldn't attend a funeral if you’re displaying any symptoms of coronavirus. 

Even if you don't have symptoms, there are things to consider before attending a funeral:

  • If you've been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you've tested positive for coronavirus or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive you shouldn't attend a funeral. However, if you're a close family member of the person who has died you can still attend but must take certain precautions, such as:
    • Advising the funeral venue manager (who has to complete a risk assessment) and other mourners that you'll be attending in advance.
    • Take extra care to keep your distance and avoid any contact with others.
    • Practise strict hand hygiene and wear a surgical-grade (or higher) Type IIR face mask to minimise the risk of transmission. These masks are largely available from pharmacies, supermarkets and online. If you wear a respirator mask (such as an N95) it should be non-valved.
  • If you were previously told to shield or are considered extremely clinically vulnerable it's a good idea to minimised any social interactions and keep your distance from anyone not in your household or support bubble. 
  • If you've recently returned to the UK from a country that means you should self-isolate for 14 days on your return, you are allowed to attend a funeral in this period.

Everyone attending must wear a face covering in any places of worship, the crematorium and burial group chapel – unless they have a good reason not to.  

Travelling to the venue

When travelling to a funeral or linked ceremonial event you should travel in a car by yourself or with those in your household or support bubble, particularly if you've been advised to shield or are breaking a period of self-isolation to attend.  

If travelling in a funeral director's vehicle, you must wear a face covering unless you are exempt from doing so. You might also want to consider seating arrangement and maximise distance where possible. 

Can I still arrange a funeral?

Yes, you can still arrange a funeral but only up to 30 people can attend - whether it's indoors or outdoors. However, if it's being held indoors, the venue may only be able to safely accommodate fewer than 30. This should be communicated to you by the venue manager when you make your plans.

You can also arrange a linked ceremonial event such as a wake, stone setting, or the sprinkling of someone's ashes but only up to 15 people can attend these. This event can take before or after someone's funeral. You can hold these events indoors in places such as community centres or hotels as well as places of worship, cemeteries and crematoria but it must be in a coronavirus-secure way. You can speak to the funeral director about where this might be possible. 

However, you can't hold any ceremonial event at your house or private garden. 

What do I need to think about when arranging a funeral?

When arranging a funeral at the moment, it's worth considering the following before you contact a funeral director:

  • who you want to attend, being mindful of those in high-risk groups who may want to attend
  • arranging service sheets as service books are unlikely to be available 
  • services can include professional music, however, this can include no more than six singers at a distance of at least two metres from one another and no musical instruments that are blown
  • 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
  • whether you might organise 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
  • giving particular consideration if anyone attending has been advised to self-isolate, or anyone advised to shield
  • anyone self-isolating being is strongly encouraged to avoid attending, however, if they choose to they must remain at least two metres from anyone else at all times and follow the guidance at the top of this page
  • those considered vulnerable or advised to shield are advised to avoid any contact with the body of the person that's died, including washing, preparing and dressing.

Coping with a bereavement at this time

The death of someone close to us can be one of the hardest things we ever have to deal with – grief is never easy. But at the moment it may seem just that bit harder as we feel more detached from our usual support networks. Cruse Bereavement Care have more information on dealing with a bereavement during the coronavirus outbreak

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.

  1. Wait outside in the car until you're asked to enter the building by the celebrant, chapel attendant or funeral director.
  2. Don't shake hands with anyone, including the minister, funeral director or other mourners.
  3. Bring hand sanitiser and use hygiene products made available at the venue.
  4. Allow staff to open and close doors to the service to restrict the number of people touching door handles.
  5. Numbers in the venue are likely to be limited. Stick to any assigned seating plans and keep your distance from other mourners.
  6. You may be advised not to touch the coffin as you leave the service. 

If you can’t be at the funeral there are things you can do to help you feel like you’re a part of it. You could light a candle, or sit in quiet reflection, or do a reading. These can help you feel like you are saying goodbye.

For more information

For more information about the current guidelines you can visit the following websites:

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Last updated: Apr 20 2021

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