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 that funerals are not delayed with the hope of holding them once restrictions have been lifted.
While some people choose, even in ordinary times, to have a non-attended cremation or burial, followed perhaps by a memorial service at a later date, if this wasn’t what you wanted it may be very difficult to accept emotionally. If you want bereavement support, either generally or in relation to the fact you are not able to attend a loved one’s funeral, there are lots of services that can help over the phone, by email, online chat or through forums with other bereaved people:
- Grief Chat
- Child Bereavement Network’s directory of support for children
- Supporting bereaved children during the outbreak
- The Loss Foundation (cancer bereavement support)
- Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity)
- Sue Ryder
- Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
- Support after Murder & Manslaughter
- Sudden - supporting people after sudden death