We'll be updating this page with any information and advice regarding funerals and the coronavirus outbreak.
If you're struggling to pay for a funeral, our helpline is open. We have also put together a practical guide for organising a funeral during the pandemic.
Government guidance is that attended funerals can take place as long as people adhere to the relevant guidelines and regulations, which include restrictions on the number of attendees.
You can find links to specific guidance in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales on our Arranging the funeral page. In all four nations, funerals are allowed to be conducted in places of worship, but some may still be closed and funerals may have to be held at the graveside or crematorium.
Apart from places that are under a local lockdown, new regulations allow more people to attend a funeral. However, the actual numbers will depend on the venue as guidance still states that a safe distance of at least two metres (three steps) should be maintained between individuals. Advice says that attendees in England should be limited to 30, while in Scotland it is 20. However, except in Wales, the previous restrictions limiting mourners to particular groups of people have been lifted, instead guidance advises that:
- Only a modest number of family and friends of the deceased should travel to and attend the funeral
- Overnight stays away from the home are permitted, though it is advised this should only be with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household (in which case social distancing should be maintained)
Welsh government guidance is more specific and asks people “to only attend funerals of your closest family and friends and only if you have been invited. Please do not attend a funeral if it would involve extensive travel.” You can also attend if you are the carer of a person who is attending.
Other key elements of government guidance, aimed at minimising the risk of transmission, include:
- Any mourner showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (a new continuous cough or a high temperature) should not attend as they pose a risk to others;
- Mourners in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who are self-isolating as advised by NHS Track and Trace or due to someone in their household being unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) should not attend if they have any symptoms of any kind, even if these are very mild. If they are not symptomatic they can attend, but with processes in place to minimise the risk of transmission, as per the national guidance for your area. In Scotland however, these people “must seriously consider not attending”.
- Mourners who are in vulnerable or extremely vulnerable groups can also attend with these processes in place. When shielding is in place, they are advised not to attend if others present are self-isolating due to another member of the household being unwell with symptoms of coronavirus.
It is asked that funerals are not delayed with the hope of holding them once restrictions have been lifted.
Further guidance from the National Association of Funeral Directors is as follows:
Wherever possible, funerals should be arranged over the phone or via electronic means. If the funeral must be arranged in person, social distancing guidelines should be respected;
- Do not arrange a funeral in person if anyone involved has Covid-19 symptoms or should be in self isolation;
- At risk groups are strongly advised not to visit the chapel of rest;
- Many firms have now re-introduced following cars - extra provisions include providing perspex screens and additional cleaning. The government has issued advice on travelling to a funeral safely, especially with people from outside of your household/support bubble;
- During the service, all mourners should remain two metres apart from anyone not living in their household/support bubble at all times;
- Live streaming of the funeral service may be possible – enabling others to still participate without putting themselves and others at risk;
Please be aware that this is only guidance. Some funeral directors and crematoria are imposing their own restrictions and making individual choices about how to operate during the pandemic.
Specific guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Guidance from faith organisations:
- Church of England - see FAQ section ‘Can funerals still go ahead?
- Catholic Church for England and Wales
- Muslim Council of Britain