When a loved one dies, our natural human desire is to be surrounded by others, but COVID-19 has prevented this from being possible.
However, as lockdown measures continue to ease across the country it has been announced that funerals can once again start to take place in churches.
The Church of England has issued a statement saying the decision has been made in line with guidance from Public Health England regarding COVID-19.
The coronavirus outbreak meant all churches had been closed, with funerals only permitted to be held at the crematorium or graveside. Mourners were limited to immediate family only.
New guidance has now been issued to clergy members and other people who take funerals to help ensure all services are carried out as safely as they can be during the ongoing pandemic.
Despite the recommendations, church ministers are being asked to individually assess whether they are able to conduct funeral services safely, as each parish and building is different.
How many people can now attend?
Guidance released this week states that up to 30 people can attend a funeral. Other restrictions will depend on two factors:
• the space available in each building so a safe distance of at least 2 metres can be maintained between households at all times during the service.
• the number of people that a minister feels they can effectively ‘manage’ during a service
Who can attend the service?
In addition to the member of clergy, funeral director and staff, the government has stated that only the following should attend:
• members of the person’s household
• close family members
• or if the above are unable to attend, close friends
It is not recommended that additional people, such as an organist, verger and sound system operator should be invited along.
Can people in self-isolation or those who are showing COVID-symptoms attend the service?
Anyone who has a high temperature, a new continuous cough or loss of taste and smell, which are all COVID-19 symptoms, should not attend the funeral in any circumstances.
Live streaming or recording the service could be a workable alternative for those who are unable to attend, but still wish to pay their respects.
Mourners may wish to consider holding a memorial service for their loved one so everyone who wishes to can attend, but only once social distancing measures have been completely lifted.
Although Government guidance has been relaxed slightly, people are still being reminded it is vital that the necessary hygiene and social distancing precautions are kept in place in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.
If you need advice, please call our team on 01920 443277.