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Funeral directors oppose any ban on funeral services

A ban on funeral services would cause untold misery for bereaved families and do little to prevent the spread of coronavirus, say funeral directors.

In response to calls for funerals to be halted, the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) argues that services should still go ahead, but the Government should provide greater clarity around numbers to ensure consistency across the UK.

Funeral services were excluded from the ban on public gatherings announced last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson but have been restricted to immediate family only.

This has been interpreted by the sector to mean that a spouse/partner, brothers/sisters, parents/carers, and children and their partners are able to attend funeral services. The funeral profession has also responded by offering live-streaming and webcasting for people unable to attend.

Chief Executive of SAIF Terry Tennens said: “Our association is completely opposed to a ban on funeral services at this time – our members are telling us that families would rather go ahead with a funeral with just a handful of close relatives present than not at all. We think stopping funeral services altogether would create significant misery for people already struggling with the isolation caused by the necessary national lockdown.”

He added: “Most crematoria remain open and have introduced measures to keep mourners apart during services. Nobody is trying to put anyone at risk unnecessarily, and as long as the Government’s social distancing guidelines are followed we believe it is possible for funeral services to continue safely.

“What would be beneficial at this stage from the Government is an indicative figure for the number of people allowed at a funeral, as this would minimise the risk of large gatherings at services.”      

SAIF believes that in the current circumstances funeral services should continue, however, it accepts that in an extreme situation where the system is overwhelmed by a significant number of deaths there might be a cause to move to direct to cremation disposals of the deceased.

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