Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Funerals

Page Updated Thursday 4th June 2020

As some of the 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 Goverment 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 still encouraging people to attend funerals, there are 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 16 members of the family may attend the burial or cremation plus funeral director team and minister / celebrant. At the graveside there will be a maximum of six mourners, with up to 10 forming a wider “ring” so they can be part of the ceremony.

Webcasting is now 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 hearse will be allowed through the gates followed by cars with up to 10 people and the gates closed behind them.

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

A maximum of 12 people are allowed in the chapel – upto 10 family members (this has been updated 14th April), a funeral director and a minister / celebrant.

Double slots cannot be booked.

There can be no witnessing of the cremation.

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

Live webcasting is now available at both Woodlands and Robin Hood

Burials

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

There can only be a maximum of 10 people around the graveside.

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.

Redditch

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

Here the local authority are restricting attendees to family members only, and typically will fall within the categories below:

Spouse / Partner
Parents / Carers
Siblings
Children (and partners)

Thre is no upper limit on the numbers of household and close family members.

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

Webcasting is being offered free of charge to allow people who are not in the groups listed above to view and “virtually” attend the funeral.

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.

Cremations can be witnessed by no more than 2 family members.

Webcasts will be provided free of charge

Cemeteries are now open providing social distancing guidance is observed.

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, skype or other appropriate video conferencing tools. We will not be able to visit families in their homes or other venues.
  • 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 home before a funeral at this period in time.
  • We are still unable to offer a limousine service. The requirement to be 2m apart means that the provision of a car and driver is no longer possible. Families would therefore need to make their own way to the funeral service, assuming access is being allowed. We do know that provisions are being considered for limousine services so it may be available again in the coming weeks.
  • 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 will 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

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 have begun to collect people again who have died from 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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