The rules and regulations surrounding attending funerals have been in the minds of many over the recent months, both due to the tragic increases in family members passing away and the lockdown restrictions in place.
As lockdown begins to lift, things are beginning to return to a form of normality, however it remains the case that there will be no such thing as a ‘proper’ and well-attended funeral for a while. Indeed, the government has indicated that this guidance will be in place “for the foreseeable future”.
Can I go to my loved one’s funeral during the Coronavirus pandemic?
The rule so far has been that yes, you can, but only if you fall into certain categories. Each local authority sets its own requirements but, generally, there will be restrictions on the number of mourners present. It can seem heartless, but there is also likely to be an ‘order’ set out by your local authority to fill the 10 or even 5 places permitted alongside the funeral attendants, starting with:
- members of the person’s household (e.g. spouse, civil partner, partner, children)
- close family members
- or if the above are unable to attend, close friends
- attendance of a celebrant of choice, should the bereaved request this.
Anyone shielding or in the same household as a person with symptoms could potentially attend, but those with symptoms are barred from being there.
Where can the funeral be held?
So far, funerals have only been permitted to take place in a crematorium, rather than a church or building of faith, as these have been closed to worshippers.
With the government’s decision to allow places of worship to open, funerals are now beginning to take place once again inside churches and other buildings of faith throughout the country. Social distancing measures will still apply though, so the congregation would need to be spread out across the building.
Can we have a wake?
Unfortunately, no, under the current regulations. Bereaved families have the option of raising a glass virtually, or postponing the wake for the future, and perhaps incorporating it into a memorial service.
What are the alternatives for those who can’t attend?
For now many grieving family members and friends will still have no choice but to say goodbye at a distance.