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 9 November 2020.
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.
The number of people who can attend a funeral will 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. In addition, attendees in England should be limited to 30, while in Scotland it is 20 (Protection Level 0 areas can have 50) and in Northern Ireland it is 25.
In general, advice is that only a modest number of family and friends of the deceased should travel to and attend the funeral. However, the 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.” 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, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell) should not attend as they pose a risk to others;
- Mourners in Northern Ireland who have tested positive should not attend while they are meant to be self-isolating, but if required to self-isolate for other reasons they should be facilitated to attend, if they wish to do so in line with the guidance;
- Mourners in England and Wales who are required to self-isolate should not attend a funeral. In England, the guidance goes on to say that in this situation, it is a legal offence to attend a funeral under any circumstance other than the funeral of a close family member. Even if you are a close family member of the deceased, it is strongly recommended that you attend remotely if possible.
- Mourners in Scotland who have tested positive should not attend while they are meant to be self-isolating and “must seriously consider not attending” if they are required to self-isolate for others reasons.
- Mourners in England, Northern Ireland and Wales who are clinically extremely vulnerable can also attend with these processes in place. If you choose to attend, it is important that you maintain strict social distancing and follow the latest guidance. 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:
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;
- 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.
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