Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Funerals

Page Updated Friday 24th July 2020

As lockdown restrictions are easing, we are still committed to ensuring that everyone attending funerals can say goodbye safely. Here are some of the guidelines that have been issued, both by Government and by individual crematoria and cemeteries. Please contact us if you have any questions at all.

Firstly – If you are feeling unwell and feel you may pose a risk by attending a funeral, we would advise you to follow the NHS guidelines.

Whilst the government is encouraging people to attend funerals, there are still limits being placed on the number of people who can attend and how they should take place. We have provided details of the current local authorities’ decisions below.

As a responsible business we have also been putting in place additional procedures, and been liaising with others like us to manage current plans and consider future requirements. We also are keen to safeguard ourselves and those who might come into contact with us we continue to do this.

Cemetery and Crematoria Current Guidelines

Birmingham: Lodge Hill, Yardley, Sutton Coldfield

In Birmingham the current situation is that up to 30 members of the family may attend the burial or cremation plus funeral director team. 

Webcasting is available at Lodge Hill and is being offered free of charge.

Funeral directors have been asked to place the coffin in the chapel before the families can enter.

Collection of ashes will not be allowed during the emergency period – no charge will be made for the storage of ashes during this period.

No family backfilling of graves is allowed.

All the cemeteries are closed to the general public during weekday working hours, access is only allowed for funerals. There is a security guard on each gate to allow funeral parties to enter.

Please click on this link for details as to when the cemeteries are open for visitors to the graves.

Solihull: Robin Hood, Woodlands

The gates at the cemeteries and crematoria are now closed during weekdays, with access only for funerals through security.

The security guards will have knowledge of services that are to take place and who the Funeral Directors are.

The coffin must be taken in first before the family enters the chapel.

From Monday 13th July, In order to comply with the government’s guidance of 1 meter plus rather than a strict 2 metres Solihull will be able to accommodate additional mourners in the chapels, keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between the pews.

In order to try to keep to the spirit of the Government’s relaxations they will also permit additional mourners outside who can listen to the service on the loud speakers.

At Robin Hood this will mean 25 mourners can enter the chapel with 5 outside in the porch; at Woodlands this will mean 20 mourners inside with 10 outside.

Double slots can now be booked again.

There can be no witnessing of the cremation.

All attendees should still socially distance themselves from each other within the chapel.

Live webcasting is now available at both Woodlands and Robin Hood

Solihull are not taking grave reservations at this point. Nor are families able to backfill graves. 

Ashes scattering and ashes interments can now be booked again. There is a maximum limit of 30 attendees allowed.

None of the people attending to have been in contact with the person who died if the cause of death was Coronavirus.

None of those people attending to be displaying COVID-19 symptoms within the last 7 days or to be living with somebody who has been displaying symptoms within the last 14 days.

All 3 cemeteries will be opened again on weekends from Saturday 25th April 2020 from 9 am to 6pm in order to allow families to visit graves. Families must keep to the social distancing rules and must not congregate in large gatherings.

The council will be reviewing this to ensure that the guidance is followed and that there is no increased risk to members of the public.

Information can be found about cemetery opening times etc via this link

Redditch

The maximum permitted number of mourners as per the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) (England) Regulations 2020 is 30 (inc the celebrant but not the Funeral Director or bearers)

The chapel at Redditch will remain set up for socially distanced seating for 12 but if others attend then they will be permitted access up to the maximum number but will not be able to socially distance.

This maximum number of 30 applies to all cemeteries & the crematorium so for clarity it will not be acceptable to have the permitted number in the Chapel and further attendees outside, people will be requested to disperse as they will be in breach of the law.

Mourners will be expected to remain in their cars prior to the funeral arriving.

Webcasting is still currently being offered free of charge to allow people others to view and “virtually” attend the funeral.

Cremated remains burials & scatterings are also now able to be booked.

More information can be found on the Redditch Council website via this link

Sandwell: Sandwell Valley and Rowley Regis

The seating capacity at Rowley Regis crematorium has been increased to 16 and Sandwell Valley crematorium to 20 seats. The layouts of both chapels allow for social distancing principles.

Those who should be attending funeral services for both burial and cremation should be limited to; spouse, partners, parents, carers, brothers, sisters and children. People who fall into vulnerable group categories or who may have underlying health conditions should prioritize their own safety.  No arbitrary upper limit will be in place, although mourners should be mindful of the available seating and social distancing ability within the chapels.

In all instances curtains will be closed after committal. Cleansing regimes in chapels have been increased. Waiting rooms and Book of Remembrance rooms are now closed. The reception areas are also now closed until further notice.

Webcasts will be provided free of charge

Cemeteries are now open providing social distancing guidance is observed.

More information can be found on the Sandwell Council website via this link

Westall Park Natural Burial Ground

Funeral attendance should be kept to a minimum with immediate family taking priority at the graveside.

All attendees must be in good health and not be showing any symptoms of Covid-19.

All attendees must follow the government advice of maintaining a 2 metre distance.

The park has re-opened to visitors but please see their website for more information : Westall Park Website 

What we are doing

As part of our planning, we have considered, and will continue to consider, a range of infection control options in line with the latest advice given by Public Health England. We are also working with partners, such as local crematoria and burial grounds, to ensure we comply with their coronavirus procedures.

It goes without saying that if we find ourselves in a position of increased risk to health, or at risk of furthering the spread of coronavirus then we may need to make some hard and possibly uncomfortable decisions. But please be assured that we remain committed to caring for you and the people who have died as best as we possibly can during these uncertain times.

At this point in time we have decided to do the following:

  • In order to keep our premises as clean and clear as possible we have been limiting the number of people who enter them, all funeral arrangements therefore will take place over the telephone, zoom, skype or other appropriate video conferencing tools. We may be able to meet in an appropriate outdoor area; weather and space permitting.
  • Before we collect the person who has died, we may ask you a series of questions related to coronavirus/COVID-19 and pneumonia to ensure we are best equipped to safely deal with your circumstances. 
  • Arrangements for signing paperwork will take place remotely either by post, electronically or by dropping papers through letterboxes. Please be assured we will help you through the correct completion of all paperwork.
  • Spending time with the person who has died-  we can now offer this again on a case-by-case basis so if this is important to you please discuss it with us. We may be able to offer a ‘virtual’ viewing service if circumstances prevent you from physically being able to enter our premises.
  • Our team may be wearing additional personal protective equipment (PPE) even when the risk is deemed to be low.
  • If the service was due to take place at a venue where live webcasting is available, then this may be a viable option. We will help to ensure this is implemented and in communicating the details to people via our website. 
  • We will not be able to bring a person back into your home before a funeral at this period in time.
  • We are now able to offer a limousine service again. Funeral cars have been fitted with screens to protect both driver and passengers, providing 6 seats for family members.
  • To protect everyone in our community, our team has been instructed not to shake hands and to stand a safe distance apart. We’ll still be warm and friendly – just from a slight distance.
  • We may request that we take the coffin into the chapel or venue before all other guests, and no staff member is required to stay in the chapel during the service. We will however remain on-hand outside should we be needed.
  • Venues may cancel at short notice, or the rules may change about immediate family being able to attend. Under these circumstances we will make every effort to replace the ceremony with something meaningful, but it may be necessary to arrange a memorial service or thanksgiving ceremony at a later date. We will be more than happy to help with these arrangements in future if required.
  • We believe strongly that ritual and ceremony are so important when someone dies, and although this may not take place in person currently, we are working closely with a number of celebrants on ways in which people can still hold and participate in a ceremony virtually, and with a wider number of people. We would encourage people still to engage a minister or celebrant to help remember and talk about the person who has died.
  • In the case of Coronavirus related deaths, we may have to arrange a prompt funeral to prevent unnecessary storage and handling of the person who has died.

At our premises

Wearing of face coverings – as of Friday 24th July it is mandatory for people to wear face coverings in shops / retail premises. Anyone coming into our premises must wear a face covering. Children under the age of 11 and people with certain disabilities are exempt.

In our premises we have added to our already high standards of infection control by:

  • Implementing a twice daily clean-down of all reachable surfaces, door handles, light switches etc
  • Replacing towels in the public toilet with disposable paper towels
  • Implementing a hand sanitising station on entry to the building and requiring all who enter to sanitise or wash their hands immediately.
  • Placed disinfectant sprays and hand sanitisers into our vehicles
  • As a team we are working remotely as far as is possible and only meeting up where necessary.
  • A full clean-down is carried out after any person, other than a regular staff member, has been on the premises.

 

Other possible considerations

With regards to other details, we need to make you aware of the following possibilities:

  • Collection from home or nursing home: We are collecting people again who have died in their home or nursing home, but there may be some circumstances where this is not possible. Each situation will be treated individually however, so please do call and we will advise of the next best steps at the time you call.
  • Service times at crematoria may be altered to cope with increased demand.
  • We may need to bring in additional staff to help with increased need. Please be assured we will still be operating to the highest standards of care and ensure that there is always at least one permanent staff member in attendance. 
  • We may have to adapt our working practices to adhere to any new rules that are imposed during this period.

As a business we pride ourselves on our ability to remain flexible at difficult times – we will continue to be so during these changing circumstances.

We will update this page as soon as anything changes.

 Thank you for your patience.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about coronavirus/COVID-19 and funerals, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by
calling 0121 444 0437 or by emailing funerals@anaturalundertaking.co.uk

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