The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has presented an unprecedented set of challenges for bereaved families who are having to arrange funeral services for loved ones, as well as many mourners who wish to pay their final respects.
Whilst funerals are still able to go ahead for now, there have been some important changes. The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), alongside several other funeral related organisations, have formed the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG), which is regularly liaising with government officials and cabinet members on the sector’s response to COVID-19.
Funeral Guide will continually update this page with the latest advice as and when it becomes available.
The following information is accurate as of March 12th 2021.
Can I arrange a funeral during the pandemic?
Yes, you can still go ahead and arrange a funeral. Please be aware that while funeral homes will remain open, funerals should be arranged over the phone or via other electronic means, wherever possible. You can find and compare funeral directors near you using Funeral Guide.
How many people can attend a funeral?
The number of people allowed to attend a funeral depends on which part of the UK you live in. In England up to 30 people can attend the funeral, as long as the venue can ensure social-distancing can be maintained. In Scotland up to 20 people can attend, and in Wales and Northern Ireland, each venue can decide on the number of people who can attend. In every country, you can only go to a funeral if you are invited.
How many people can attend a wake?
Like funeral services, wakes - and any other post-funeral gathering - are subject to further restrictions. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland wakes and other ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6 people, depending on local restrictions. In Scotland, wakes are not currently permitted.
From April 12th, wakes will be permitted for up to 15 people.
From May 17th, 30 people can attend a wake in line with all life events at this stage.
From June 21st, the Government intend to launch the Events Research Programme, to consier how and when restrictions can be lifted from large events including funerals and wakes.
Can I arrange a funeral if I have Coronavirus symptoms?
If you or anyone else involved in arranging a funeral has symptoms of Coronavirus, or has tested positive for the infection, please remain self-isolated and follow the government's advice.You can still arrange a funeral online, or over the phone.
Do I need to wear a mask at a funeral?
Yes. The government has advised that mandatory face coverings must be worn in both funeral homes, and places of worship. This means that you must keep your mask on at all times while attending a funeral. You may remove the mask once you are outdoors, for example at the graveside or in a garden of remembrance.
Can I view my loved one in a chapel of rest during the pandemic?
In most cases, yes, you can still view your loved one, but it is vital that you make the arrangements beforehand. Once you have agreed a time to visit with your funeral director, be very careful to only visit with others living in the same household. If you are in an at-risk group, you are strongly advised not to make a visit.
Can I attend a funeral during the pandemic?
The government has advised that funeral services may still take place, as long as certain precautions are in place.
Funeral directors and faith leaders have been advised by the Government to restrict the number of attendees, so a safe distance of at least 2 metres can be maintained between individuals. Only members of the deceased person’s household or close family members should attend.
You should not make physical contact with anyone from outside of your household, including while travelling to and from the funeral, and any individual displaying symptoms of Coronavirus should not attend.
Additionally, if your loved one has died from COVID-19, or experienced symptons before they died, you are strongly advised not to adhere to any rituals or practices that may bring you into close contact with them. If close contact is unavoidable, you should always where personal protective equipment (PPE).
Where can I hold the funeral?
You can hold the funeral in many of the same locations as before, but there have been some closures. The Church of England have closed all of their churches, and many other religious organisations have enforced similar policies. Many crematoriums now have restrictions on the number of people allowed at a service, and how you can interact during it. You will have to talk to your funeral director about how this affects you and your arrangements.
Is there any way that I can view a service online?
Yes, there are several ways that funeral services can be viewed over the internet. The most common way is via webcasting, or live streaming. Many funeral directors now offer this service which allows many people to attend a funeral, without putting anyone at risk. Read Funeral Guide’s Live Streaming Funerals article to find out more about this.
How can I donate in memory of someone without being at the funeral?
You can donate to charity in memory of your loved one online. If the funeral director is a Funeral Guide client, you can donate via their online obituary.
How should I let people know about an upcoming funeral?
The government has advised that you do not publicly advertise the time or location of a funeral. This reduces the risk of others arriving unexpectedly. If anyone unexpected does turn up, they may be turned away at the door, which could be distressing for them and the bereaved family. It will also place key funeral workers at risk of catching the infection.