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.
Updated 17 May 2021
Government guidance is that attended funerals can take place as long as people adhere to the relevant guidelines and regulations, which may 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.
The number of people who can attend a funeral continues to depend on the venue as guidance across the UK states that a safe distance of at least two metres (three steps) should be maintained between individuals. There are now no fixed limits anywhere, except for in Scotland where it depends on the protection level of the area.
In general, advice is that only a modest number of family and friends of the deceased should travel to and attend the funeral. However, in Wales the law states you can only attend if you have been invited or you are the carer of someone who is attending. Welsh government guidance also asks people “to only attend funerals of your closest family and friends".
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, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell) should not attend a funeral in person as they pose a risk to others;
- Mourners in Northern Ireland who have tested positive should not attend in person while they are meant to be self-isolating. If required to self-isolate for other reasons, it is strongly recommended they attend remotely, but after careful consideration of the risk, they may attend as long as they do not even have any mild COVID-19 symptoms and follow the guidance (paragraph 70).
- Mourners in England who are required to self-isolate, by NHS test and trace or due to a positive test, should not attend in person. In this situation it is a legal offence to attend any funeral other than that of a close family member (e.g. partner, parent, sibling, child or grandparent). Even then, it is strongly recommended that you attend remotely if possible.
- Mourners in Wales who are self-isolating due to a positive test, a possible case of coronavirus in their household, or as advised by Wales NHS Test, Trace, Protect, should not attend in person. The only exception is if the deceased is a family member or close friend. If you decide to attend, you should inform the organiser, the funeral director and/or the venue operator.
- Mourners in Scotland who are required to self-isolate for any reason should not attend a funeral service in person.
- Mourners in England, Northern Ireland and Wales who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to take extra precautions. If you attend, ensure the organisers know so that the latest guidance can be followed. In Scotland, if you are part of a higher risk or extremely high risk group you must seriously consider doing so in line with important public health advice and should always, in the first instance, consider joining via electronic means or viewing a recording of the service.
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:
Funerals should not be arranged in person if anyone involved has Covid-19 symptoms;
Those who are self-isolating should arrange a funeral over the phone or via email, wherever possible;
- Some funeral directors may have restrictions in place that mean it is not possible to view the deceased;
- In following cars, many companies have installed screens between the driver and passengers;
- 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.
The National Bereavement Partnership
The National Bereavement Partnership provides a support helpline, counselling referral and befriending service for all those suffering from anxiety, grief or mental health issues as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic.