Latest advice for funeral professionals – SAIF and NAFD updates
Funeral associations are receiving regular updates from Government with guidelines for the current pandemic. We will look to include the latest here whenever there is new information. The latest update from SAIF outlines new changes to funeral guidance in England
Long-form guidance for managing a funeral updated
SAIF is now able to share with members updated long-form guidance for managing a funeral in England during the coronavirus pandemic.
The guidance can be downloaded here and it includes the following changes:
- Capacity limits for a funeral have changed from a maximum of 30 attendees to no numerical maximum but rather limits defined by the risk assessment of the venue, based on enabling social distancing between attendees and staff within the venue (whether inside or outside)
- Changes to social distancing advice where friends and family can now choose whether to have close contact, after considering the risk
- Organisers therefore need to enable social distancing as opposed to ensuring social distancing and this should be reflected in seating arrangements
- Clinically extremely vulnerable people are able to attend funerals and are also able to take a risk-based decision when deciding whom to have close contact with
- Attendance at commemorative events is increasing from up to 15 to up to 30 people
- Changes to singing advice in line with wider places of worship and safer singing advice
- Changes to enforcement advice including removal of reference to a £10,000 fixed penalty notice as a means of enforcement for high attendance at a funeral.
As reported last week, from Monday 17 May, the 30-mourner restriction at funerals will be removed under new guidance but there will still be limits on attendance, and services must only take place in Covid-secure venues or in public outdoor places. The number of mourners will be decided by how many people the venue can accommodate with social distancing. The venue manager or event organiser must take the required precautions, including the completion of a risk assessment.
Additionally, as of Monday a maximum of 30 people will be permitted to attend linked religious or belief-based commemorative events, such as wakes, stone settings and ash scatterings. Anyone working is not counted in these limits. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
However, also from 17 May, people will be able to decide what distance they keep from friends and family when meeting up. Whilst two metres' social distancing is still advised, this relaxation does mean people at funerals have greater freedom to console each other. However, SAIF encourages members to liaise with local service chapels and venues in order to understand their specific rules and pass this information on to families.
Finally, changes to travel will come into force on 17 May, with travellers facing different rules on testing and quarantining, depending on whether they have arrived from a red, amber or green list country. Further details can be found here.
From 17 May, all of Scotland will be at Level 2. For funerals, this means a maximum of 50 mourners at both funerals and any commemorative events such as wakes or ashes scatterings, provided the venue's capacity allows for two metres' social distancing. Alcohol may be served at post-funeral gatherings.
Latest media reports state that the Welsh Government is set to announce this Friday (14th May) further easements from 17 May. It is believed the number of people that will be permitted to attend an indoor wake will increase from 15 to 30, and to 50 if outdoors. SAIF will advise as soon as further information becomes available.
A review of restrictions is due to take place on Thursday 13 May, with further easements anticipated on 24 May, when it is hoped that post-funeral gatherings will resume (numbers to be informed by a risk assessment for the venue). This will be subject to review.
Funeral service mourner number limit to be decided by risk assessment
SAIF members may have seen media reports over the weekend stating that the 30-mourner limit in England is to be removed later this month. SAIF can now confirm that as of Monday 17 May, the number of people allowed to attend a funeral service in England will be decided by each venue's capacity to host mourners in a two-metre socially distanced, Covid-secure way.
Further guidance is expected on whether the social distancing rule will shift from two metres to one metre plus; SAIF understands a review is underway and will update members as soon as information on any changes becomes available. An announcement on the changes by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP follows funeral sector campaigning for a move to risk assessed funeral service numbers which included SAIF's intervention last week as reported in the Daily Mail.
The number of people permitted at a wake or commemorative event, such as a stone setting or ashes scatting, will remain as per the roadmap, which increases from 15 people to 30 as of 17 May.
An announcement from the Government stated: "Families and friends will shortly be able to pay their respects to loved ones in greater numbers, with numerical limits on funerals to be removed.
"After careful consideration, the legal limit of 30 mourners will be removed as part of Step 3 of the roadmap, to take place from 17 May at the earliest. As the Prime Minister has said, the current data does not suggest any need to alter the dates at which restrictions will next be eased.
"Instead, the number of people who can attend a funeral will be determined by how many people the venue, such as the relevant place of worship or funeral home, can safely accommodate with social distancing. This includes both indoor and outdoor venues. Capacities of venues will vary, but many will allow significantly more than 30 people to attend.
"Limits for other life or commemorative events at Step 3, such as weddings and wakes, are expected to remain as set out in the roadmap."
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