Funerals during the coronavirus lockdown in the UK
Update 28 May 2020
As the UK starts to come out of lockdown, the government has published new guidance for England. The advice is much the same as we’ve outlined below. Funerals are still limited in numbers attending and social distancing must be observed. Online books of condolence are one of the ways that are suggested as alternative routes for mourners. The guidance emphasises that funerals should be held as quickly as possible, and not delayed.
Original article 20 April 2020
The loss of a loved one is hard at any time. Now with social distancing rules in force, organising a funeral and paying respects has become a difficult and heart-breaking task.
The UK government continues to issue and update guidance for managing funerals safely. This is the advice from the 19 April 2020. If guidance changes, we will aim to update this article too.
The intention of the guidance from Public Health England (which is generally being followed in other areas of the UK) is to allow families and friends to attend funerals to say goodbye, while protecting both mourners and those who are managing the funeral.
Guidance includes advice that:
- The only people who should attend the funeral are members of the deceased person’s household and close family members. If family cannot attend, close friends are allowed
- Numbers attending should be determined by the size and circumstances of the venue, ensuring that social distancing is adhered to, and should be kept as low as possible
- Safe social distancing should be observed across all aspects of the funeral
- People who are extremely clinically vulnerable (shielded) can attend with measures put in place to reduce their risk
- People self-isolating because someone in their household is ill may attend if they do not have symptoms themselves
- Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus Covid-19 should not attend
Find the full guidance here.
Issuing guidance to local authorities on making sure that families can attend funerals and wishes are carried out wherever possible, the local government minister Simon Clarke said:
“Many councils have already put in place innovative arrangements so funerals can take place in a safe and sensitive fashion. I want all councils to consider how best to facilitate funerals so close family can attend and mourn their loved ones in an appropriate way. This will help to ensure that people can be laid to rest with dignity, and that their final wishes and beliefs are respected while we protect the public from the spread of coronavirus.”
You can find his full letter here.
Not entirely surprisingly, one of the major funeral director firms, Dignity, has reported in May that while the number of funerals it has managed has risen, about 60% of funerals are now simple ceremonies, up from 20% last year. With limousine options and church services not currently available, Dignity says its average charge per funeral has fallen to £3,150.