Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Funerals

Page Updated Thursday 2nd April

We are currently facing uncertain times as the coronavirus epidemic unfolds across the UK. It’s difficult to say how as a nation we will be able to say goodbye to the people we care about, but below is our current and best thinking about how we will need to manage our funeral arrangements over the coming weeks and possibly months.

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.

Cemetery and Crematoria Current Guidelines

Birmingham: Lodge Hill, Yardley, Sutton Coldfield

In Birmingham the current situation is that upto 6 members of the family may attend the burial or cremation plus funeral director team and minister / celebrant.

No family backfilling of graves is allowed.

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

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

Solihull: Robin Hood, Woodlands

The gates at the cemeteries and crematoria will now be closed, with access only for funerals through security.

This is because the regulations around only 6 mourners at a service continues to be ignored. 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 6 people and the gates closed behind them. Should all of the cars have 4 or 5 people in them then only 1 car will be allowed entry.

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

A maximum of 8 people are allowed in the chapel – 6 family members, a funeral director and a minister / celebrant.

Double slots cannot be booked.

There can be no witnessing of the cremation.

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

There can only be a maximum of 6 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 attendees should socially distance themselves from each other within the chapel.

Audio recordings of ceremonies can be purchased.

Redditch

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

Here the local authority are restricting attendees to 6 family members only, and typically will fall within the categories below:

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

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

Access to the crematorium is via the exit gate. Security are operating the gate and will let people in for the relevant funerals

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

Both locations are now closed to the general public apart from for funeral services.

Numbers of mourners are being limited to immediate family as per Redditch above.

In all instances curtains will be closed after committal. Cleansing regimes in chapels have been increased. Waiting rooms, 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

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 is now only be open to visitors who are attending funerals for the foreseeable future. 

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’re really sad that we can no longer enable such visits at our premises. It’s been a hard decision to make but we really need to take measures to protect our staff and the families we are looking after. We may be able to offer a ‘virtual’ viewing service if this is helpful.
  • 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 no longer able 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.
  • 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.

 

Other possible considerations

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

  • Collection from home or nursing home: while we still await guidance from the government on appropriate procedures and specific details around protective clothing for funeral directors we may not be able to collect people who have died from their own home or nursing home, and it may be that another appointed team needs to be called. 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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