New advice issued for safe funerals

Public Health England has published new guidance to ensure funerals are conducted safely, consistent with social distancing principles. Faith leaders have been consulted and worked with PHE to ensure that communities, the funeral industry and the NHS are protected.

Coronavirus COVID-19 is an infectious disease and can be transmitted when large groups of people congregate; however, with certain precautions funerals should continue to take place.

To help reduce the risk of spreading the infection, funeral directors and faith leaders are advised to restrict the number of mourners who attend funerals so a safe distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) can be maintained between individuals. 

Only members of the deceased person’s household or close family members should attend funerals. Any individual displaying symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19 should not attend. 

Those who do attend will need to adhere to social distancing at all times, including when travelling to and from the funeral.

In addition, the guidance advises that since there is a small but real risk of transmission from the body of a deceased person, mourners are strongly advised not to take part in any rituals or practices that bring them into close contact with the body of a person who has died from or with symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19. Practices that involve close personal contact with the deceased should only be carried out using the correct personal protective equipment.

Professor Paul Cosford CB, Public Health England’s Emeritus Medical Director, said:
“Losing a loved one is a sad and distressing experience and funerals are important and personal. During this very difficult time for the country, our aim is to protect the most vulnerable from the spread of coronavirus.

“We are encouraging all mourners to practise social distancing at funerals for the time being. This sadly means limiting the number of mourners to immediate households and closest family members.”

Last updated: 15/04/2020