We'll be updating this page with any information and advice regarding funerals and the coronavirus pandemic.
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 26 July 2021
There are now no fixed limits on the number of funeral attendees anywhere in the UK, but Welsh government guidance continues to ask people “to only attend funerals of your closest family and friends". In Northern Ireland "the number permitted to attend funerals in places of worship, funeral homes, the City of Belfast Crematorium or at a burial ground is to be informed by a risk assessment for the venue".
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. You can find more detailed guidance on our Arranging the funeral page.
Other key elements of government guidance, aimed at minimising the risk of transmission and keeping people safe, 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 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 68).
- Mourners in England and Wales who are required to self-isolate by the relevant NHS test and trace service, or to be in quarantine following international travel, 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 in England (e.g. partner, parent, sibling, child or grandparent), or a family member or close friend in Wales. Even then, it is strongly recommended that you attend remotely if possible, especially if you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Mourners in Scotland who are required to self-isolate for any reason should not attend a funeral service in person.
- Mourners in England who are clinically extremely vulnerable, or those in a higher risk or extremely high risk group in Scotland, can now follow the guidance for the general population. However, in England it is suggested you “may wish to think carefully about the particular risks associated with attending a funeral, and consider taking the precautions described in the guidance”.
- Mourners in Northern Ireland and Wales who are clinically extremely vulnerable are more strongly encouraged to consider their attendance or to extra precautions. It’s advised organisers are informed so that the latest guidance can be followed. In Wales, you are asked to “please consider your intention to attend the funeral very carefully” and in Northern Ireland you "should attend a funeral remotely, where this is possible".
It is asked that funerals are not delayed with the hope of holding them once all 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;
- Following a risk assessment of their individual circumstances and ability to offer services safely, some funeral directors may not offer viewings, ritual washing or other aspects of personal care, like dressing the deceased in their own clothes;
- Face coverings are no longer a legal requirement, but please check local requirements with your funeral director.
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.