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.
The Government advises that attended funerals can take place as long as people adhere to this guidance, which includes restrictions on the number of attendees. Although government guidance allows funerals to be conducted in places of worship, many are currently closed and funerals may have to be held at the graveside or crematorium. As of 15 June the Church of England is opening their doors for funerals, though it may still depend on the individual church.
Apart from places that are under a local lockdown, from 4 July 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. Places of worship are limited to a maximum of 30 attendees. Except in Scotland, 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)
The Scottish Government’s regulations still state that the only people who should attend a funeral are members of the person’s household and close family members or, if none of them are able to attend, close friends.
Other key elements of the 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 who are self-isolating for 14 days 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 guidance.
- Mourners who are in vulnerable or extremely vulnerable groups can also attend with these processes in place, but they are advised not to if there are others attending who are self-isolating due to another member of the household being unwell with symptoms of coronavirus.
The government asks that funerals are not delayed with the hope of holding them once restrictions have been lifted. “To ensure that organisations managing funerals are able to facilitate the needs and wishes of families, it is important that funerals are not delayed. We understand how difficult funeral arrangements will be for families and friends of lost loved ones, however, the current guidance will remain in place for the foreseeable future as we continue to respond to the challenges of COVID-19.”
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;
- It is recommended that limousines are only used if there is no alternative option and, if used, should only be used to carry those living in the same household;
- During the service, all mourners should remain two metres apart from anyone not living in their household at all times;
- Live streaming of the funeral service may be possible – enabling others to still participate without putting themselves and others at risk;
- Don’t publicly advertise the funeral details to reduce the risk of other, well-meaning mourners arriving unexpectedly.
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