Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Funerals

Page Updated Friday 3rd December 2021

As lockdown restrictions continue to ease 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 and have removed number limits, individual venues may still place number restrictions and have additional requirements in place. We have provided details of the current local authorities’ decisions below.

As a responsible business we have also put additional procedures in place throughout the last 18 months to safeguard ourselves and those who might come into contact with us.

National Guidelines 

For details of local lockdown restrictions in different areas of the UK, please view this webpage. Under all alert levels, funeral services remain subject to Government guidelines as set out on the official webpage Guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic, however, local authorities may impose more stringent requirements if they feel it is appropriate to do so.

Under current government guidelines funerals and linked commemorative events such as wakes, stone settings and ash scatterings may all take place. They may also take place in venues other than COVID-Secure venues, such as in a garden of a private home. The number of people who can attend is in most cases determined by how many people a venue can safely accommodate.

Following the revision to guidelines over the weekend of 27th November 2021, it has been confirmed that the requirement to wear facemasks in schools, shops and public transport does not extend to funerals or funeral homes. That being said it is always advisable to be safe, so the wearing of facemasks in these settings is recommended. 

If mourners are due to attend a funeral having travelled from overseas, they must first isolate and then be able to demonstrate a negative PCR test result taken on or before day two of their arrival in the UK – even if they have had two vaccines and booster. All details of the government decisions can be found via this link.

Lateral Flow tests

In the updated guidance, all mourners attending funerals should take a lateral flow test prior to attending the funeral. The specific guidance can be found via this link.

The latest government guidance is due to be reviewed towards the end of December 2021

Local Cemetery and Crematoria Current Guidelines

Listed below are some of the main crematoria and cemeteries that we use. If you would like information on any others in the area please contact us.

Birmingham: Lodge Hill, Yardley, Sutton Coldfield

Birmingham has been highlighted as one of the higher risk areas for the Delta strain of the Covid 19 coronavirus and additional guidance is in place which states social distancing measures remain in place wherever possible to reduce the risk of infection.

For this reason, the measures that will be in place for Monday 19 July 2021 for Birmingham City Council’s cemeteries and crematoria are as follows:

Crematoria

  • The restriction on the number of mourners will be removed but there will be a requirement that face coverings are to be worn in chapels where the social distancing can’t be maintained.
  • Singing will be permitted, so face coverings can be removed at that time, but hymn books will not be in use so service sheets are recommended.
  • All chapels will continue to be ventilated and cleaned between services as much as possible.
  • The curtains can remain open at the end of services, but families should be discouraged from approaching the coffin prior to leaving the chapel.
  • Where required, families may witness the charging of the coffins, by prior appointment only, and additional precautions may be in place for each location.

Cemeteries

  • Family backfilling of graves can recommence from Monday 19th July but with limited numbers of no more than six directly around the grave at any one time.
  • Families are requested to sanitise if the shovels are being passed to or from another person.
  • Mourners will be asked to step back when staff are required to enter the grave area.

Offices

  • Receptions will continue to be opened during limited hours by appointment only.
  • Whilst infection rates continue to rise, there remains a high risk to the service being able to maintain services and there may be occasions when offices are required to close in the event of an outbreak.

Charging

From 1 September 2021 any requests for webcasting will be incur a charge of £30 per service.

Self-Isolating Mourners–  Mourners that are self-isolating may attend funerals but must maintain 2 metres social distance.

Solihull: Robin Hood, Woodlands

The Public Health Team has advised that the amount of people testing positive in Solihull is  amongst the highest in the country and with this in mind Solihull is asking that the restrictions on numbers attending chapel services remain in place.

The maximum number of mourners who can attend funerals at Robin Hood and Woodlands crematoria is 30.

Whilst face coverings are no longer legally required Solihull council asks that families continue to wear them inside the chapels for their own protection and the protection of the Bereavement Services Team and funeral staff.

The following restrictions also remain:

  • Anyone displaying symptoms will not be admitted. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dry Cough
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Loss of smell and taste

 

  • The office will remain closed
  • The waiting room and book room will remain closed.
  • Witness to the cremator will remain at 2 people only.
  • Backfills will remain at 2 people only and families need to provide their own shovels.
  • Charges for live web casting will be reintroduced and singing, musicians and pipers will be allowed, there will however be no hymn books available.
  • Cremated remains can now be collected by the applicants but an appointment must be made for this.

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

Redditch

Redditch Crematorium
No indoor limit on numbers attending a funeral

Chapel seating to be restored to pre pandemic arrangements

Main building inc toilets to be open during operating hours with no restrictions

All people attending or working within our building will be strongly advised to wear a face covering

Enhanced cleaning within the building will continue

Book of Remembrance Room / Floral Hall will reopen Monday to Friday during working hours only

Responsibility for covid security rests with attendees, funeral directors (inc staff) & celebrants

Families may now collect ashes by appointment

Redditch & Bromsgrove Cemeteries

All outdoor activity will be unrestricted as per current guidelines

Cemetery staff will remain social distanced and not remove bearers on full burials

Responsibility for covid security rests with attendees, funeral directors (inc staff) & celebrants

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

Sandwell: Sandwell Valley and Rowley Regis

Face coverings

For funeral services that take place indoors attendees must wear face coverings.

Test and trace

It will remain necessary as a proportionate system of infection control.  We will therefore request in advance names and contact numbers for all who attend our venues in anticipation of services that are to be provided. This information will be kept for 21 days and then destroyed.

Keeping everyone safe

We are advocating attendees take a free test before being in close contact to help manage periods of risk. These are personal choices which can help reduce the risk of catching or spreading. If someone has been instructed by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate because they have tested positive for COVID-19, or they’re the close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate and not attend. All other precautionary interventions for those attending our venues such as screens, enhanced cleaning regimes and hand sanitizers will continue to be provided.

Mourner numbers

There will continue to be no upper limits in place for attendees of funerals that take place outdoors, to include burials, burial of ashes and scattering of ashes.

In response to new advice on social distancing, for cremation services a further increase in the number of attendees are permitted within our chapels. We have altered our seating layouts, providing for both family and support bubbles, along with individual seating for those who may wish to attend alone or who maybe anxious about crowds in an indoor setting.

We can therefore safely accommodate an upper limit of 118 attendees within the chapel at Sandwell Valley Crematorium, and an upper limit of 64 attendees within the chapel at Rowley Regis Crematorium.

The use of screens outside of these chapels is now be permitted however, this will only be at the request and with the consent of the family.

Live webcasts will be chargeable again from 1st September 2021

Wakes in the Reception Suite

The Reception Suite will continue to accommodate up to 40 guests offering plated options along with table service.

Reception areas

Our reception areas will continue to be accessible by appointment only.

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

Westall Park Natural Burial Ground

Westall Park have advised that after the 17th May attendance should be no more than 40 people to enable appropriate social distancing.

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 open 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 are doing 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, as far as possible funeral arrangements therefore may take place over the telephone, zoom, skype or other appropriate video conferencing tools. We may be able to meet at our premises or 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 to ensure we are best equipped to safely deal with your circumstances. 
  • Arrangements for signing paperwork may take place remotely either by post, electronically or by dropping papers round to people’s homes. Please be assured we will help you through the correct completion of all paperwork.
  • Spending time with the person who has died-  we can offer this 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 to communicate the details to others via our website. 
  • We may not be able to bring a person back into your home before a funeral at this period in time – please discuss with us if this is important.
  • 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.
  • Track and trace information is required to be collected for all people attending a funeral. We will ask the lead mourner to complete and return a form to us with this information before the funeral. 
  • 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 only 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 the rules may change and it may not be possible to take place in person, 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, where the situation worsens, 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: 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 over the last year, we 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 have been 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 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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