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'Close family must be able to attend funerals in person' Govt tells councils

The Government has emphasised to local councils that family members must be allowed to attend the funeral of their loved one, and cemeteries should remain open so that those bereaved can visit graves.

On Saturday 18 April, a letter from Local Government Minister Simon Clarke MP to all council leaders in England, was published – setting out guidance to ensure that family members can attend the funerals of their loved ones and that the wishes of the deceased are respected. The key points in this letter were reiterated in the press briefing by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.

You can read the letter here.

The Communities Secretary said: "Close family must be able to attend funerals in person during this pandemic and can safely do so by following in line with social distancing guidelines. We will continue to work closely with councils to ensure that safe and sensitive measures are put in place all across the country."

Those crematoria and cemeteries that have moved to unattended services are now expected to revise their guidance.

Updated guidance on funerals during COVID-19 was also released.
Key additional points are:

    •    Councils should ensure mourners can attend funeral services in person
    •    Councils should reopen cemeteries to allow bereaved people to visit a grave
    •    Funeral services should enable those who are self-isolating or in an at-risk/vulnerable group to attend
    •    Venue managers may set caps on maximum numbers, depending on size of facility, in order to ensure social distancing can be adhered to
    •    Mourners should be permitted to have a minister of celebrant of choice in attendance
    •    Where there are aspects of faith include close contact with the deceased, this should be restricted to those who are wearing PPE, and under supervision. This should not include vulnerable/high risk individuals

The Government is also encouraging live streaming and deferred celebrations or memorial services, to enable wider groups of mourners to participate and has restated the importance of not delaying funerals.
The guidance in full can be found here.

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