COVID-19 UPDATE March 19th
Posted: 19th March, 2020
How Coronavirus may or has affected funerals – March 19th 2020, 1.00pm
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 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 or have had to take the following actions:
- Funeral arrangements will be made entirely over the phone, with a visit to a controlled area of our office for form signing with limited face-to-face contact. We would not be able to conduct arrangements at clients’ homes or other venues.
- Services at places of worship or at any other venue could be cancelled. In such circumstances, we would be happy to 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. We would provide advice aimed at ensuring everyone who needs to view the service is able to do so. Our staff may also be required to wait outside any chapel or building during services, whilst remaining on hand to offer assistance in line with official guidance.
- Following the advice on March 17th from the Archbishops that all public worship within Church of England church’s should be limited we feel that the best practice in the current circumstances would be to offer a very simple service at the cemetery or crematorium, with attendance restricted to a minimum number of people. We are able to offer to have a memorial service later in the year and we believe this is the safest compromise for all concerned in the current situation. However if this is not the option you would like to go with then we are still able to offer the service in a Church of England church as planned but would request that whatever guests are still able to attend sit appropriately spaced out within the building so as to minimise the risk of infection.
- On March 18th in a statement from the Catholic Bishops conference of England and Wales, it was advised that from Monday 23rd March “the funeral service should take place at the graveside or crematorium, subject to the conditions laid down by the cemetery or crematorium authorities” Therefore, when arranging a Catholic funeral, they/we can only offer a short funeral service at the graveside or crematorium.
- Service times at crematoria could be adjusted and/or reduced to allow for increased demand for services.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- We would protect our clients and staff by restricting viewings. However, we would do our best to enable clients to sit with the coffin during this period and ask that a maximum of 2 people only attend our chapels..
- We are unable to conduct any ‘into church’ provision or ‘into house’ from Monday 23rd March 2020..
- 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.
- Pre- and post-funeral gatherings may have to be cancelled.
- 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 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.
- We have hand sanitiser in our main reception in all of our offices – 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.