How Covid-19 is Affecting Funerals
This page will be updated as new information is released, it is meant as a general summary of what is currently happening with all funerals. In the event that we are caring for a family whose loved one has passed away from Covid-19, we will speak to the family individually if any special measures are required, however there is no additional restrictions on the type of funeral available, and people are still able to come and see the deceased if wished.
Each family we are looking after will be updated as anything changes that directly affects them.
It is a strange world that we are living in at this time, and many normal practices have had to be suspended or adapted in order to fight this virus, unfortunately funerals are included in this. It's important to remember that you still have choices available for funeral services and we'll do everything we can to accommodate your requests.
We are following all government advice around attendance at funerals. If you are showing any Covid-19 symptoms, you should not attend. If you are in an 'at-risk' group, or self-isolating due to someone in your household having symptoms, we can help to facilitate you attending the service, you should make any others attending aware of your situation, maintain social distancing at all times, wash your hands or use hand gel regularly, use a face covering, and depart as soon as the service is over.
We will discuss with each family individually what we feel has a realistic possibility of taking place, although this is of course outside our control and will need to be amended if guidance changes.
Please note that from Saturday 8th August, it will be mandatory for face coverings to be worn, both when entering a funeral director's premises and for all indoor funerals.
During 'Lockdown 3', what is permitted to take place is in line with Tier 4.
We ask that wherever possible, arrangements are made by phone/video link, paperwork will then be posted or emailed as necessary. Where absolutely essential, we can receive people at our premises, by prior arrangement only, with a maximum of 2 people attending, subject to existing self-isolation recommendations.
From Monday 6th July, we will be resuming our limousine service with the following in place, please note that failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in a refusal of travel:
• The divider between the driver and passengers (maximum of 6) will remain up at all times, no front seat passengers.
• Between each use, the vehicle will be cleaned with an anti-viral fogging machine, proven to kill Covid-19.
• All passengers in a vehicle must be from the same household/support bubble.
• The same driver will remain with the vehicle from leaving the garage until its return.
• Drivers will wear a mask.
• Passengers are required to wear a face covering.
When discussing services with ministers/celebrants, in almost all cases this will now be done by phone and email.
All Funeral Services
The Tier system does not change any rules about funeral services themselves, and there is no change even if the alert level changes.
Funeral service attendance is legally limited to 30 people, not including anyone working, such as the minister/celebrant, funeral director etc. However, each individual venue has to conduct its own risk assessment to see if they can accommodate the full amount and still maintain social distancing, many are not able to, and will set their own limits.
No congregational singing is permitted, however we are able to play recorded versions of hymns, we have found most people prefer this to just listening to the organ, but it is personal preference.
Where safe, and we are permitted to do so, we will carry the coffin with up to 4 bearers. Some venues are not currently allowing us to carry coffins, and where it is not safe to use 4 bearers, we will place the coffin on a wheel bier. We regret that at this time we are not able to allow family bearers.
Face coverings must be worn, unless exempt at all indoor funeral services. This will include our staff, who will also wear them at outdoor services.
If you are travelling for a funeral to a different Tier area, you must not meet with another household other than at the funeral service. Social distancing must be maintained at all times.
The majority of Churches are now open for funerals, with the exception of Methodist Churches, where most remain closed. Mass is permitted, however the sharing of wine is not, use of communal service books and Bibles is also not permitted.
Services are still being held, some crematoria have removed service books and spaced chairs to allow social distancing. This varies between the individual crematoria. Most offer the option of a video link or webcast, so those unable to attend can see the service.
York Crematorium is limited to a 20 minute service (it is possible to extend this by booking an adjacent service time, at an additional cost), limited to 18 and 5 mourners in the large and small chapel respectively. When entering the Chapels, the chairs are all spaced 2m apart, you are free to move them to sit with your household/bubble, though we do ask they are returned to the marked areas at the end of the service.
There are still options for services to take place elsewhere for numbers up to 30, both for religious and non-religious services, please contact us to discuss this.
Burials are also legally limited to 30 people, though as elsewhere, some cemeteries are reducing this number as they deem appropriate,
Most florists are now open again, although some may be telephone/online orders only. We are able to accept orders as we normally would, and will fulfil them through our usual florists.
Our printers are fully operational and we able to produce bespoke service sheets as normal. With reduced attendance, and no communal service books, it is currently very popular to have these, both for the service itself, and to send out as mementos for those who are unable to attend.
In Tiers 1-3, wakes are now limited to a maximum of 15 people in a Covid-19 Secure venue, and 6 people in tier 4, in the form of a sit-down meal. Though traditional buffets are not allowed, buffet food may be pre-plated by the venue and served at the table. The 'Rule of 6' does not apply in this scenario, however social distancing should be maintained at all times between different households/bubbles. In Tier 3 & 4, hospitality venues must close, but a wake can still be held in other Covid-19 secure venue, such as a village hall, church hall or a hotel conferencing centre (but not the restaurant).
We are currently recommending that families make bookings themselves with venues, so that each venue can explain how they are operating, ensuring you are comfortable attending and know what to expect upon arrival.
What is permitted for a gathering outside of a Covid-19 secure venue is determined by the tier level of the area you live in, not where the reception takes place:
Tier 1- 'Rule of 6' applies whether inside or outside.
Tier 2 - 'Rule of 6' applies outside, inside it is limited to 1 household/bubble.
Tier 3 - Limited to 1 household/bubble inside and most outside spaces.
Tier 4 - Meet with 1 other person in a public space.
If anyone from tier 4 is attending a wake in a tier 1-3 area, tier 4 rules must be followed, limiting the size of 6 people.
Travelling to a Different Tier Area
If you are travelling for a funeral to a different Tier area, you must follow the rules of the tier you have travelled from, and other than at the funeral service, cross tier mixing should be avoided. Social distancing must be maintained at all times. A funeral is a permitted reason to travel in all tiers, and in tier 3 & 4, a permitted reason for overnight accommodation in hotels and B&B's.
Attending a Death
Please be aware that whenever we attend a death now, whether at a house, or a care facility, we will be wearing personal protective equipment, minimising both any risk to our staff, but also to families and any other residents.
We've been working hard to ensure all friends and family are able to access the funeral, even if they cannot physically attend the service. We are pleased to have teamed up with another York company to now be able to offer a funeral webcasting service, with high definition video, broadcast level microphone and a private link to allow control over who can view.
At the moment we only have one camera available. This is offered on a first come, first served basis. The webcast is high quality, cost effective, and most importantly, private and unobtrusive. The family can be sure they are not 'on show' to anyone they don't want to be, but can share the service with those who are unable to attend in person. For full details, please see our Livestreaming page.
Interring and scattering of ashes are classed as 'Linked Ceremonial Events' similar to wakes, and can be attended by 15 people in tiers 1-3 and 6 people in tier 4, whether this be at a Covid-19 secure venue, or a public outdoor space.
Travelling to attend a Funeral
During lockdown, attending a funeral is a reasonable excuse to leave home and where necessary, hotels may provide accommodation to enable you to attend.
We all want the best for grieving families and are working hard to provide the best service possible.