Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Funerals

Page Updated Sunday 16th May 2021

As lockdown restrictions continue 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.

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 upto 30 people may attend a funeral, and 15 people may attend a linked commemorative event such as wake, stone setting and ash scatterings. Anyone working at these events is not included in the limits.

From the 17th May 2021 numbers allowed at funerals can increase but it is up to each individual venue to set their own limit with social distancing still in place. We will be updating this page as venues inform us of their limits.

After 17th May the national guidance is that 30 people may attend a linked commemorative event such as wake, stone setting and ash scattering, although there may still be limits placed by individual venues.

Local Cemetery and Crematoria Current Guidelines

Face coverings are mandatory at all funerals. Nationally published exemptions will be accepted. See this link for exemption information.

Where singing takes place it should follow the safer singing rules – click this link for the specific details. Only professional singers may sing indoors – outdoors a congregation of up to 30 people may sing.

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

From Monday 17th May 2021 there will be no restriction on the number of mourners at outdoor funerals. (This does not apply to memorial services and burial/scatterings of cremated remains where the limit of 30 will apply)

This applies to the following cemeteries:

Brandwood End Cemetery
Kings Norton Cemetery
Quinton Cemetery
Sutton Coldfield Cemetery
Sutton New Hall Cemetery
Witton Cemetery

 Handsworth cemetery chapel – limited to 50 people

Lodge Hill  Crematorium – limited to 48 people

Sutton Coldfield Crematorium – limited to 40 people

Yardley Cemetery and Crematorium – limited to 50 people

Time in the chapel is limited strictly to 30 minutes (this includes entry and exit times) even though the actual slot is 45 minutes, to enable cleaning after each service.

Family backfilling of graves is still not being allowed.  It is intended this practice be allowed after 21 June if the Government’s roadmap continues as planned or when step 4 is confirmed. This will be confirmed closer to the time.

All the cemeteries have amended their opening times for the general public during weekday working hours to give greater access to people visiting graves. This means there is more limited availability for burials to take place. Burials are currently being booked in the mornings, with one day each week closed to burials, but open for visitor access.

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

Solihull: Robin Hood, Woodlands

From Monday 17th May the maximum number of mourners who can attend funerals at Robin Hood and Woodlands crematoria is now 30. Face coverings must still be worn, hand sanitising carried out and social distancing of 1 metre + observed.

The external speaker are not in use and mourners must not congregate outside the chapel.

Obitus live screening will still be free whilst the number of mourners allowed to enter the chapel is limited.

Witnessing of the cremation can take place but with a maximum number of 2 family members – again wearing face coverings and social distancing. 

Attendance at burials, interments of cremated remains, scatterings of ashes and memorial placings now have no limit on the number of mourners, however again face coverings should be worn and social distancing adhered to.

Family backfills are again allowed- however families are asked to bring their own shovels and also please note that if the family begin the backfill then they must complete it, Robin Hood grave diggers will not approach until the family have left the site.

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 are open all day, and 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

From May 17th 2021 the following will apply (current rules remain in place until then)

Redditch Crematorium

Total permitted within the building per funeral = 55

This equates to: 30 in the chapel, 15 in the lobby & 10 in the waiting room

This assumes each bubble attending contains at least two people and they are wearing face masks and sanitising their hands on entry to the building.

It should be noted that the lobby area is standing only, the waiting room has limited seating for only 6.

As attendance at a funeral is legally unlimited all remaining attendees will be accommodated outside with the use of the speakers.

Track & Trace is still a requirement for entry to our facilities and people can still scan the NHS QR code or our own QR both of which are available are prominent points around the entrance points.

Funeral Directors, professional musicians and celebrants no longer count within the permitted numbers but should still be kept to a minimum where possible.

Live webcasts will still be provided free of charge for the timebeing.

Funerals will still be treated as exclusive bubbles and enhanced cleaning will continue between services during which time access to the building will not be permitted as per our current guidelines.

Unlimited attendance numbers across all cemeteries for full burials only. This still assumes mourners practice social distancing and appropriate hand hygiene. 

Cremated remains burials still fall under the commemorative category which is restricted to 30 people currently.

Track & Trace is still a requirement for attendance at our facilities and people can still scan the NHS QR code or our own QR both of which are available via the officer in charge at the burial.

 

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

Sandwell: Sandwell Valley and Rowley Regis

From 17th May 2021

The seating capacity at Rowley Regis crematorium has been increased to 30 and Sandwell Valley crematorium to 60 seats.

The layouts of both chapels allow for social distancing principles.

The use of screens outside of these chapels will also now be permitted however, this will only be at the request and with the consent of the family. Requests for screen use needs to be made well in advance of the funeral to the bereavement team at the crematorium.

Webcasts will be provided free of charge

In all instances, current guidance related to social distancing and infection prevention should be maintained with the mandatory wearing of face coverings whilst attending a funeral will continue to be in place at all venues.

Where upper limits continue to be in place, track and trace details will continue to be required.

Cemeteries are open providing social distancing guidance is observed.

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

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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