Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Funerals

Page Updated Tuesday 13th October 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.

National Guidelines following introduction of three tier coronavirus warning system

The three alert levels, which apply from 00.01 on Wednesday 14th September, are Medium, High and Very High. Medium is the default tier for all parts of England not facing more serious measures under High and Very High levels. For details of local lockdown restrictions in different areas of the UK, please view this webpage. Under all three 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.

Medium

Funerals must only take place in Covid-19 Secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events (such as stone-settings) before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit down meal.

Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

High

Funerals must only take place in Covid-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events (such as stone-settings) before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit down meal.

Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

People living outside of a high alert level area can travel to this area to attend an event, but they must not meet with another household indoors.

Very High

Funerals must only take place in Covid-19 Secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit-down meal to ensure people can keep their distance from each other.

Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

People living outside of a Very High alert level area can travel to this area to attend an event, but they must not meet with another household in a private home or garden and they are asked not to stay overnight.

Locla Cemetery and Crematoria Current Guidelines

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

Singing, chanting, playing of instruments that are blown, or activities needing / causing people to project their voices loudly are discouraged.

The national limit for funeral attendance is 30 (although some crematoria may require less due to their size) – Wakes are not included in the funeral attendance allowance – see above ‘National Guidelines’ for further information.

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 currently being offered free of charge.

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.

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

At Robin Hood the national allowance of 30 attendees will mean 20 mourners can enter the chapel with 10 outside in the porch listening to the service on the loud speakers.

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 available at both Woodlands and Robin Hood for a fee.

Attendance at burials is also limited to 30 people. Families are not able to backfill graves at burials.

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)

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 can be booked, but are subject to the ‘rule of 6’ attendance requirement. 

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 20 and Sandwell Valley crematorium to 30 seats.

The layouts of both chapels allow for social distancing principles.

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

Track and trace information is now required by Sandwell for attendees at funerals. They require the information before the funeral, and when the application for crematino paperwork is submitted. We will provide the form for you to complete.

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 is limited to 30 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 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, 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 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 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 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, 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 this 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 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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