Questions about funerals during Covid-19 lockdown (updated)

funerals during covid-19 | funerals and coronavirus | london funeral directors

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Updated 17 May 2021

We’ve put together this list of answers to common questions covering funerals, commemorative events and wakes, family visits, and alternative ceremonies. We will continue to do our absolute best to keep this resource up-to-date as government guidance changes.

What are the current restrictions on holding a funeral?

Funerals can still go ahead and there is now no set legal limit on the maximum of people who can attend. However, the government guidelines state that the number of attendees at a funeral must be determined by how many people the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.

Therefore the number of attendees depends whether there is sufficient space within the venue for social distancing. People who do not live together or share a support bubble must still maintain social distancing.

Otherwise, we’ll continue normally, taking into account the government’s guidelines for minimising the risk of transmission.

These guidelines include:

  1. The need to protect at-risk groups.
  2. Avoiding large gatherings of people.
  3. Avoiding unnecessary physical contact.
  4. Good hand hygiene.

We’ll consider each funeral individually and speak with the relevant crematorium, cemetery, or place of worship to consider what’s possible. Our priority is helping you plan a meaningful funeral, while also looking after the safety of our community.

If government guidance changes, we will share any information that could affect your funeral plans and go over how we can help with alternatives. As always, we’ll be guided by your wants and needs, and do everything we can to make your ideas happen.

Read how one family planned their mum's funeral during Covid-19.

What about commemorative events, such as scattering ashes, wakes and stone settings?

The government guidelines say that religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to funerals can now take place with up to thirty people in attendance, as long as they are in a Covid-19 secure venue that is permitted to open, where a risk assessment has been carried out and all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission have been taken.

This maximum limit does not include anyone working at the event, but the actual number of people able to attend will depend on how many people the venue can safely accommodate alongside staff. Commemorative events of up to 30 people can take place outdoors (including in private gardens) or indoors in a COVID-secure venue.

Whether the event is taking place indoors or outdoors, you should discuss the safe capacity of the venue with the venue manager before the event. You should only invite the number of people the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place, in some cases, this may be fewer than 30 attendees.

Venues can include community centres, places of worship, burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria, as well as areas of exhibition centres, conference centres and holiday accommodation. Events can take place indoors or outdoors.

Can I safely spend time with someone who has died of Covid-19?

There isn’t a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. You will need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) and keep a safe distance. This situation can feel very challenging for anyone who wants to have a family visit, and we’ll do everything we can to help.

It may be comforting to remember that we have been supporting family and friends in this situation since the start of the pandemic, and we have previous experience caring for people who have died with contagious respiratory illnesses, such as Tuberculosis. We follow government guidelines on caring for people safely and can keep you up to date on advice about Covid-19.

The government’s official guidance on Covid-19 advises that visits can continue. This means that you can still come to our beautiful mortuary and spend time with the person who has died. We’ve put plans in place to look after your safety as best we can. Our team will provide you with full PPE and talk you through other safety measures.

You and your doctor are best placed to decide whether you’re in the at-risk category for Covid-19, and may not wish to visit. If you aren’t comfortable coming in person, we can arrange to use video conferencing software so you can still say goodbye.

What can I do if Covid-19 lockdown means the funeral I'd hoped for isn't possible?

Changing funeral plans can feel very difficult, especially as the time after someone has died is often overwhelming. We are here to do everything we can do to help.

We can work with you to make alternative funeral plans during Covid-19. This could involve an online streaming service, or a private ceremony with no more than six people in our Friends and Family Room. We can put you in touch with celebrants who plan flexible rituals, and explore what other options might exist. It’s also possible to plan a memorial for a later date.

Dignified and thoughtful care for everyone

We believe that kind, dignified and thoughtful care should still be at the forefront of everything we do, while continuing to follow government guidelines. This means that we will give the exact same level of care to anyone who has died with Covid-19.

No matter how the situation changes, our values of openness, flexibility and responsibility will remain the same. We’ll work together to meet this challenge, and be here for you every step of the way.

We also understand that grieving during this time can be different and difficult, here, grief therapist Julia Samuel shares her thoughts on looking after your mental health during Covid-19.

There's also more information on holding a funeral during the pandemic available from Down To Earth.

If you have any other questions or would like to talk more about these issues, please do give us a call on 020 3589 4726.

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