During the period of the coronavirus pandemic we understand there will be many new questions and concerns about funerals. This page will be updated according to the changing situation we find ourselves in.
The response to the pandemic has led to restrictions around funerals. For some, this will mean they are not able to attend the funeral Mass or Liturgy of a relative or a friend, and therefore will be unable to console the bereaved and offer prayer for the soul of the deceased.
But during this challenging and difficult time it is still possible to plan ahead for the funeral, even if there are restrictions on numbers in attendance, and requirements for social distancing.
The current government guidance on the opening of churches for public worship requires that the number of people attending funerals is capped at 30 people. However we recommend checking the very latest government guidance in case the situation should suddenly change.
Parishes are encouraged to live-stream funeral services and Requiem Masses so that those who cannot attend may unite themselves to the worship in Church and pray for the deceased and the consolation of the mourners.
There should be good collaboration between the family of the deceased, the chosen funeral director and the clergy to ensure that the numbers of people assembling in the church is limited to the immediate family and those very close to the deceased. Any interaction with the family should be done safely – this may mean by telephone, Skype, Zoom etc.
As a principle, numbers should be minimised as far as possible and no more than 30 people. Alongside the member of clergy, funeral director and staff, the government advises that only the following should attend:
It is important that anyone attending should not exhibit any symptoms of Covid-19 or place themselves at risk.
The usual guidance on hygiene, hand sanitising and people with symptoms not attending church, as set out in the guidelines for opening for individual prayer, applies.
Guidance for the safe use of places of worship and special religious services during the pandemic is likely to remain subject to change. And, if you live in an area that is experiencing a local Covid-19 outbreak and where local restrictions have been imposed, different guidance and legislation will apply.
The advice on this page is taken from information published by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in England and Wales. Please read the latest version of their guidance for Catholic funerals.
You may also wish to read the government’s latest advice.
The Liturgy Office of England and Wales has published a leaflet which offers a short time of prayer for use at home at the time of the funeral.
At the height of the first lockdown in Spring 2020, when the most serious restrictions around funerals were in place, we spoke to Paul Allcock, a Catholic family Funeral Director and former President of SAIF – The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors.
LISTEN TO OUR INTERVIEW: Advice from funeral director Paul Allcock about the coronavirus and funerals in the UK (9mins, mp3 format, 18mb), or read more here.