COVID-19 Update – July 13th
How Coronavirus is affecting funerals
As you will be aware, we are currently facing a worldwide coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. On July 10th the Government issued further guidance for those involved in managing funerals.
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.
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.
In our efforts to protect families and everyone involved in arranging funerals, we continue to operate within 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 various 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 actions with immediate effect to ensure the safety of yourselves, our staff and the wider general public.
We have already 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 continue to be made entirely over the phone, with the necessary forms able to be signed digitally, via email. Where this is not possible forms can be dealt with by post, brought to your house or we can arrange a visit to a controlled area of one of our offices for form signing, with limited face-to-face contact. We will not be able to conduct arrangements at clients’ homes or other venues.
- Our offices remain 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 limited in varying ways due to the pandemic – we have information or can obtain information for all venues. At crematoria, funeral services can currently be live streamed via the internet where possible and we will provide advice aimed at ensuring everyone who needs to view the service is able to do so where possible.
- The guidelines about funeral attendance have changed and we must also adhere to the various crematorium/church/venue rules alongside the government advise. There are guidelines regarding the number of attendees permitted for each venue – these have a tendency to change regularly and vary between all the local crematoria/churches so please ask for the latest guidance. If the venue is a place of worship, it is advised that the number of attendees is restricted to a maximum of 30. The current advice we have received from the government limits attendance to a modest number of family and friends. Further guidance is those travelling from countries that are not exempt from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days can leave their place of self-isolation in limited circumstances which includes compassionate grounds (i.e. attending a funeral), those symptomatic should not attend a funeral and those self-isolating due to a household member being unwell, but not symptomatic can attend but must maintain a 2 metre distance from others and advise other mourners of this to ensure they do not attend at the same time as another mourner who may be clinically vulnerable.
- Pre- and post-funeral gatherings can only be held in line with the current government guidelines which currently state that the maximum gathering in a family home/garden is 30 people.
- Within the government guidelines for funerals all venues are requested to keep a temporary record of visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for the venue. This is to assist the NHS Track and Trace and could contain outbreaks of infection. We will have up to date information for each venue’s process on request.
- Within the latest guidelines it states ‘venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid activities needing or causing people to project their voices loudly. This includes -but is not limited to – refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage raised voices’. We will have guidance for each venue available on request, some of whom no longer allow singing during the service.
- Limousine travel is currently available within various guidelines. Separate guidance is available on request.
- We are now protecting our clients and staff by restricting viewings to appointment only at our branches. We will do our best to enable you 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 unfortunately unable to bring any coffin’s home at the moment.
- 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 not on our online platform 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 reception doors are locked. Please follow the instructions on the door to meet with a member of staff.
- We have hand sanitiser in our reception’s – 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.
Helen Wathall, Managing Director