Coronavirus advice for UK funerals still allows funeral services to continue. However, working with industry bodies such as the NAFD (National Association of Funeral Directors) and other members of the newly formed DMAG (Deceased Management Advisory Group), the government has imposed restrictions on how funerals are arranged and limitations on who can attend.
The following information explains what these changes are, the impact on arranging or attending a funeral and alternative options available for saying goodbye to our loved ones.
What is the government’s coronavirus advice on funerals?
The government and DMAG coronavirus advice on funerals are in line with its hygiene and social distancing guidelines. Protecting Funeral Directors, the restrictions limit contact at all times by recommending funerals are arranged over the phone and attended by the smallest number of mourners possible.
Here are the coronavirus guidelines as they currently stand:
- Funerals to be arranged over the phone or online where possible
- Visits to Funeral Directors where necessary are limited to 2 people and in line with social distancing measures
- Chapel of rest visits are allowed by appointment with the Funeral Director (viewing is not allowed where the deceased died of coronavirus)
- To limit attendees, funerals should not be advertised in any way
- At risk groups are advised not to attend the Funeral Director’s premises or the funeral service
- Funeral attendees are limited to a small group of close relatives
- Anyone self-isolating must not attend the funeral
- Where possible, the coffin should not be carried – some Funeral Directors and crematoriums will also advise against touching the coffin
- Use of limousines for family is limited, however some Funeral Directors have suspended this service completely
- Mourners should remain 2 metres apart from anyone who isn’t a member of their household
- No church services, wake, receptions or gatherings of any description
How do I arrange a funeral during the covid-19 pandemic?
Funeral Directors will no longer visit your home to arrange a funeral during the Covid-19 pandemic. For safety, they also advise against visiting their premises where possible. However, your Funeral Director is on hand to arrange everything over the phone and guide the family, albeit remotely through the whole process.
They will explain how the restrictions will affect the funeral and help you look at other ways you can share the funeral with family and friends unable to attend.
Can I arrange a funeral if I have coronavirus?
You can still arrange a funeral over the phone with your Funeral Director if you have coronavirus. However, you cannot visit the Funeral Director’s premises or attend the funeral service itself unless you are free of the illness and have completed your period of self-isolation.
Who can attend the funeral?
Due to the danger of spreading coronavirus, the people who can attend a funeral at the moment are limited to close relatives. Namely:
- Spouse or partner
- Parent(s) or carer(s)
- Brother(s) and / or sister(s)
- Children and their partners
Close friends can attend if the number of relatives is low.
Although the government hasn’t put a number on the amount of mourners allowed at funerals, many Funeral Directors have limited attendees to 10 people.
Alternative funeral options
Given the impact coronavirus is having on funerals, families are looking for alternative ways to share the occasion with friends and family who are unable to attend and give the person who has died the send-off they deserve:
Live streaming funerals
Live streaming funerals is a service offered by many Funeral Directors and crematoriums. It gives those who can’t attend the funeral the opportunity to observe the service remotely online. Although this is a relatively new option, the recent coronavirus restrictions have now made live streaming a popular way of bringing families together.
An alternative to live streaming the funeral service online is to have the service recorded. It can then be shared with friends and family, giving them chance to feel a part of the send-off.
Online memorial services
Online memorial services give you the opportunity to create an online tribute that family and friends can share, contribute memories, photos and thoughts and collect charity donations. Services are available through memorial websites such as the online tribute charity Much Loved.
Coronavirus and the cremation only funeral
One of the most difficult repercussions of coronavirus is the limitation on attendees at funerals. However, instead of being compromised, more people are turning to direct cremation and choosing to hold a memorial service or family gathering at a later date, when everyone can attend.
Direct cremation is a dignified unattended cremation, giving families the freedom and flexibility to say goodbye when, how and where they want. Even before coronavirus, direct cremation was a popular choice for those preferring a simple funeral. Now, direct cremation is becoming a major alternative to our old funeral traditions.
Could funerals be banned during the coronavirus pandemic?
Whilst funerals have been banned in Italy, the government hasn’t adopted such restrictions yet. However, some councils such as Bradford, Leeds and Kirklees have chosen to only allow direct cremations with no family or friends present.
Hopefully, funerals can continue with the restrictions in place giving families the option to either have a small service now or delay the service to a time when everyone can attend. But as with everything related to coronavirus, only time will tell.
Frequently asked questions about coronavirus funeral advice
How can I register a death?
To make life easier during the coronavirus outbreak, you can now register a death remotely over the phone rather than in person. Also, the list of people who can register the death has been extended to include Funeral Directors.
Can I attend a funeral?
You can attend a funeral if you are not self-isolating. However, as funeral services are limited to a small group of close relatives, attendance should only be by invite.
Can I delay a funeral?
As we don’t know how long the coronavirus pandemic will last, it’s not advisable to delay a funeral. You could however hold a memorial service or family gathering at a later date when everyone can attend.
Can I have a church service?
You cannot currently have a funeral service at a church as all church services of any kind have been banned. Services at the crematorium or by the graveside can take place as long as they respect and adhere to the coronavirus guidelines on social distancing.