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.
Updated 28 April 2021
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 so some funerals may have to be held at the graveside or crematorium.
The number of people who can attend a funeral continues to 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 and in Scotland it depends on the protection level of the area.
In general, advice is that only a modest number of family and friends of the deceased should travel to and attend the funeral. However, in Wales the law states you can only attend if you have been invited or you are the carer of someone who is attending. Welsh government guidance also asks people “to only attend funerals of your closest family and friends".
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 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, 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 (paragraphs 66-67).
- Mourners in England and Wales who are required to self-isolate by NHS test and trace services should not attend a funeral. In this situation it is a legal offence to attend any funeral other than that 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 are advised to take extra precautions. If you attend, ensure the organisers know so that the latest guidance can be followed. 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.
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