NEWS: Including changes in funeral practice under Covid-19

I will try to keep this up to date. New regulations and guidelines are likely to appear very quickly. If you're outside the UK, please check your own national Government guidlines.  

22 August 2021

National Association of Fneral Directors site provides a good summary of the situation UK wide. Basically no limit at services, masks must be worn if in Scotland. However, local venues and local funeral directors may have their own rules.

Scotland, as of 17 May 2021 (but changing rapidly and dependent on location).

Everything now depends on the level your area is deemed to be at - for example, in Shetland, tier zero, up to 200 people can attend, theoretically, a funeral service - but that's dependent on the two-metre distancing rule being adhered to, so it's really about the size of the venue. Still no singing. Bagpipers, apparently, may be allowed depending on the venue. Maximum of 200 at wakes and post-funeral receptions, and because of insurance issues, some hotels may be extremely restrictive still, even in tier zero. At my dad's funeral reception recently, it was one household per table.

Glasgow is at tier two still, so it's 50 at service or wake. Tier one is 100. Keep checking or your funeral director will advise.

In England, there is now NO maximum for attendees at a funeral service, though the two-metre rules must be observed, so again, it's all about the venue. No more than 30 people at post-funeral events, though it's not clear to me if these can be 'social' as opposed to 'ritual' dos. The official guidance seems vague:

In Wales, restrictions are broadly in line with England. But the official website is even more vague and wordy.

In Northern Ireland, everything seems to depend on a risk assessment at the venue - no funeral services are permitted in private homes. the two-metre self-distancing rule should be adhered but is being simply recommended. Full details on the NI Government website, which takes a bit of accessing and scrolling (and it's a pdf):

Scotland, from 26 April 2021

Key facts:
Up to 50 people now permitted at funeral services, indoors or outdoors,  and at post-funeral receptions, which can be indoors. Alcohol can be served at these, indoors or out. Social distancing should be maintained.

National Association of Funeral Directors statement here.

Full Scottish Government details of hospitality regulations here.

England, from 13 April (subject to change - please check Government website)

Up to 30 people at funeral services, indoors or out. Only 15 allowed at post-funeral reception, and hospitality (not clear if this includes alcohol) can only be provided out of doors. Full details here but remember, these regulations are changing all the time.

England, as of 22 January 2021

Key facts: 

From 6 January, during the national lockdown people are permitted to leave their homes to attend a funeral as well as other religious, belief-based, or commemorative events that are linked to a person’s death, as long as they follow the relevant rules and guidance.

During the national lockdown, funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people.

Scotland: No changes in 2021 so far. Here are the detailed regulations (and advice) for funerals in Scotland, as at 27 October 2020:

Wales (as at 15 February 2021)

No specific limit on number at a funeral but it depends on the venue capacity and the strict rules that 2-metres distancing be maintained.

Northern Ireland (as at 15 February 2021)

Maximum of 25 people can attend a funeral, Full details here (scroll down through other regulations almost to the end)

19 April

Interesting piece from The Guardian about the rise in 'no-frills' unattended cremations. David Bowie credited with beginning to make them fashionable...

Here's a story from The Shetland News about the local hospital chaplain Neil Brice and conducting a virtual memorial service on Zoom:

16 April 

Scotland launches new 'bereavement charter' for children and adults.

This sets out aims for how we should look at and deal with death and the bereaved in our society. Clearly, it comes at a very sensitive time. Its aims are laudable and should inform all practical decisions taken in the funeral industry, churches and independent secular celebrants.

13 April

Scots urged not to delay funeral services, as storage of remains is putting pressure on funeral directors and crematoria.

2 April

Funerals in Scotland. New rules. Excellent BBC article.

23 March

Nicola Sturgeon says that all funerals must now be 'immediate family only'

Aberdeen Crematorium will accept no further bookings for chapel services, while continuing to carry out cremations. Bookings for chapel services already made will be honoured for the moment, but social distancing must be observed by those attending.

21 March: 

- Waiting for confirmation but it seems fairly likely that crematoria will move to non-attended cremations only - in other words, no services.

- New Scottish regulations that ashes have to be collected by family from crematoria within 4 months of cremation or they would be disposed of are being suspended

- Restrictions on funeral services in churches and halls vary but seems certain move will be towards graveside services only for burials.

New NAFD pandemic guidelines

National Association of Funeral Directors to meet Government on 17 March. Current NAFD advice here:

Plans for 'funerals by phone' in Scotland

In Ireland, it was announced at the start of March by the Irish Association of Funeral Directors that "all funeral services for coronavirus victims should be postponed, and the deceased brought straight to the crematorium or cemetery for committal." It also recommended banning family members from funeral homes and from limousines for transport.

According to the Irish Times, this has now been modified, though funerals can only take place under strictly controlled conditions. There will be no kissing of the body. 

Limits on numbers at funerals in Northern Ireland

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