COVID-19 Update 24th March
Posted: 24th March, 2020
How Coronavirus may or has affected funerals – March 24th 2020, 3.00pm
As you will be aware, we are currently facing the threat of a coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. As a responsible business, we are thinking of possible impacts on funerals already organised and those yet to be planned in the coming weeks and months.
If you are feeling unwell and feel you may pose a risk by attending a funeral, we would advise and urge you to follow the NHS guidelines
We would like to provide reassurance that our commitment to caring for bereaved people and their loved ones will remain steadfast throughout this period of uncertainty and disruption
In our efforts to protect families and everyone involved in arranging funerals, we are considering a range of infection control options in line with the latest advice given by the Prime Minister and Public Health England. We are also working with partners, such as local crematoria and burial grounds, to ensure we comply with their coronavirus procedures.
As such, if we find ourselves in a position of increased risk to health, and at risk of furthering the spread of coronavirus, it is possible that we may need to take the following actions
- Service times at crematoria could be adjusted and/or reduced to allow for increased demand for services.
- Staff sharing. In the event of widespread staff illness, we have a contingency plan in place with other local family-run and well-respected funeral directors to share personnel if required. Rest assured you will still see the same high standards of care and professionalism from all of our partner organisations.
- The funeral director and staff would not remain in a chapel or other venue during the service. They will remain close by, outside, ready to assist you when required.
- In the case of coronavirus related deaths, we may have to arrange a prompt funeral to prevent unnecessary storage and handling of the deceased.
- We may not be offering our hygienic treatment (embalming) during this period.
- Outside organisations will impose rules and restrictions – we will adapt our working practices to follow these.
- We may not be able to fulfil floral tribute orders in full, if our florists are unable to source flowers due to national border closures.
We have found ourselves in a position of increased risk to health, and at risk of furthering the spread of coronavirus, and we have implemented the following actions for the safety of the public and our staff:
- Funeral arrangements will now be made entirely over the phone, with either forms being brought to your house or a visit to a controlled area of our Derby head office for form signing, with limited face-to-face contact. We will not be able to conduct arrangements at clients’ homes or other venues.
- Our branches are now closed as funeral arrangers are working from home. Our Derby office remains open for dropping off essential funeral related items by appointment only.
- Services at places of worship or at any other venue other than the crematorium are no longer allowed due to the pandemic. In these circumstances, we can arrange a memorial or thanksgiving service at a church or another venue at a later date, when the risk has passed. At crematoria, funeral services can currently be live streamed via the internet and we will provide advice aimed at ensuring everyone who needs to view the service is able to do so where possible. Our staff may also be required to wait outside any chapel or building during services, whilst remaining on hand to help in line with official guidance.
- The guidelines about funeral attendance are changing daily and we have to adhere to the various crematorium rules too. There are guidelines for each local crematorium which we can provide on request. The current advice we have received from the various cremation society’s limits attendance to: Spouse/partner, parents/carers, bother/sister, children (and partners).
- Pre- and post-funeral gatherings can only be held in line with the current government guidelines.
- From Monday 23rd March 2020 limousine travel will unfortunately be cancelled. This will result in the family and mourners of the deceased making their own way to the place of the funeral. We are able to leave from an address, or to pause outside a residence where families are unable to attend the service due to isolation. We have taken this difficult decision based on the governments recommendation that wherever possible people should stay 2 metres apart during this time. A limousine presents a risk both to the mourners and our drivers.
- We are now protecting our clients and staff by restricting viewings to our Derby office. However, we would do our best to enable clients to sit with the coffin during this period and ask, in line with government guidelines, that a maximum of 2 people only attend our chapels by appointment only.
- We are unable to conduct any ‘into church’ provision or ‘into house’ from Monday 23rd March 2020.
- We have implemented a policy that wherever possible we will not be accepting payments by cash or cheque. Payments can be made directly to our bank accounts via BACS, arrangers have the details of the relevant bank account numbers.
- We ask that all donations in memory of your loved one are placed on-line via our tribute page on wathalls.co.uk. For donations to charities we are able to accept these by BACS to our donation account, please call us on 01332 345268 for further information.
We ask that all visitors to our office are aware of the following:
- Our main reception door will be regularly cleaned, and we ask that all visitors make use of our hand washing facilities, or hand sanitisers on arrival. Our office door will be locked, please use the bell or call us to obtain access.
- We have hand sanitiser in our main reception at our head office – please help us to keep you safe by using it. Our staff sometimes find that a client will want to shake hands or give them a kiss or hug to say thank you for supporting them through a difficult time. We politely ask that you refrain from doing this during this period.
As this is a fast moving scenario these actions are likely to change as we receive further advice from both the government and public health departments.
Thank you for your understanding.