Most legal restrictions surrounding funerals have now been lifted, but some remain in parts of the UK and individual companies may continue to operate differently.
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".
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 take 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.
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.
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.
Other bereavement services
- 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
- At a Loss - signposting the bereaved to support