It’s a bit grim, but we have to talk about this stuff eventually.
Guidance has been issued by central government regarding holding safe funerals.
The key points from this guidance are summarised as follows:
- Funeral Directors and Faith Leaders are advised to restrict the number of mourners who attend funerals, so a safe distance of 2m can be maintained.
- Only members of the deceased person’s household or close family members should attend funerals.
- Any individual displaying symptoms of Covid-19 should not attend
- Those who do attend will need to adhere to social distancing at all times, including when travelling to and from the funeral.
- Mourners are strongly advised not to take part in any rituals or practices that bring them into contact with the body of a person who has died from or with symptoms of Covid-19.
- If the deceased has neither household or family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number of friends to attend.
Current arrangement in Leeds
- Burials have a maximum attendance of 10 mourners following a recent decision to reduce this from 20. Social distancing must be observed (2 metre distancing) and if there is mourner participation (such as the back filling of graves as is the custom for some communities) then equipment such as shovels must be provided by the funeral director or mourners themselves. The service are asking that the committal lasts for a maximum of 15 minutes. This is to ensure our grave digging staff are able to backfill the grave and go to other sites as required.
- Cremations have gone to ‘direct’ services – this would usually mean no mourners can attend at all. This is to ensure the safety of staff and the public as these are held indoors and to ensure the service is available to continue and meet the increased demand. However the service has recently slightly changed its approach to allow one ‘officiant’ to attend (such as a priest). They do not have access to the vestry and the crematoria itself, are not able to handle the coffin or approach staff and must arrive at the same time as the funeral director and the deceased. There is a time slot of 10 minutes allocated for a committal/any prayers etc to be said. No flowers are possible and the webcast facility is not available at this time.
- Families may wish to make alternative arrangements for services either through their own chapels or through a local church or other place of worship.
- Nobody (mourners at funerals, an officiant at a cremation) should attend if they are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, if they are self-isolating or fall within one of the vulnerable groups.
- Finally the decision has been taken, in line with government guidance, to close the crematoria to members of the public. These closures will remain in place during this period of national emergency. Separately, no more than 10 mourners, will be allowed to enter the crematoria grounds, who will need to be from the same household or close family members of the deceased. Mourners will not be allowed to enter any of the crematoria buildings. Burials and cremations will still go ahead as planned.