CORONAVIRUS – THE IMPACT ON FUNERALS

Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 virus, we have had certain restrictions placed on us by the government, Public Health Wales, Public Health England and the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) regarding the scope of funeral services we are allowed to offer. Your health and that of our staff is paramount.
We are working to ensure that we can preserve the dignity of those who die and care for their bereaved families with compassion – even if they are not able to have the kind of funeral they would have wanted. Details of the restrictions in place can be seen further down this page. The guidance we offer relates to rules in Wales unless otherwise specified.
There were major legislative changes passed in parliament on Friday, 27th March 2020 to allow the Doctor’s Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to be sent directly from the doctor to the Register Office by email, thus avoiding the need for families or executors to physically collect the certificate. Registration of the death can then be made by telephone on an appointment system direct with the Registrar and the required paperwork for the funeral will be emailed to the funeral director. The Certified Copy(s) of Entry of Death (Death Certificates) can be purchased for £11 each by card payment over the phone when registering and will then be posted to the family/executor/representative.
We ask that anyone who may have symptoms, feels unwell, has been around someone who may be infected with the Covid-19 virus to not attend our office or visit the chapel of rest. All visits to our office should be by appointment only please. We can make funeral arrangements face to face, but we request that the persons making the arrangements keep to a maximum of 4 in numbers and that you come to our office to discuss arrangements where we have more control over the environment. Masks must be worn unless you are exempt on medical grounds. We can visit you in your home if necessary, but ask that you observe the 2 metre distancing rule, limit numbers and wear masks unless you are exempt on medical grounds. Anyone who is elderly and/or has a medical condition affecting their health should preferably have another family member or representative make face to face arrangements on their behalf. We can offer to make arrangements over the telephone or via email if preferred and any necessary forms can be dropped off locally for signing and collection. Again, legislative changes have been made to enable cremation and burial application forms to be emailed to the family for printing, completing, scanning and sending back or posting to or collected locally by the funeral director, thus avoiding the need to attend the funeral directors office. We strongly recommend that this method is used wherever possible.
At this time, you can continue to visit loved ones in our chapel of rest whether or not their death was related to the Covid-19 virus. We do ask that only immediate family or close friends do this and that there is a maximum of four visitors at any one time. This is to comply with government advice to keep gatherings down to small numbers. Please call us to make an appointment if you wish to visit.
Many churches have resumed funeral services. Although most churches are open for private prayer, it is up to the incumbent of each individual church to carry out a risk assessment to see if they are able to open for funerals and, if so, what numbers they can accommodate. For example, St. Giles’ Parish Church, Wrexham can accommodate at least 55 mourners and more depending on household ‘bubbles’. We can check and advise on the current position of a particular church for you if wished.
Services at the crematoria, cemeteries and churches have restricted attendance. The person arranging a funeral and anyone invited by that person (or any carer of any of those persons) may attend a funeral up to the the capacity of the place of service taking into account social distancing guidance. This reflects the fact that there is no public health reason for limiting attendance to family members, the real concern is limiting the number of persons gathering indoors. Please note that the limitation operates alongside the requirements imposed on places where funerals may be held (i.e. that all reasonable measures are to be taken to maintain a distance of 2 metres (in Wales) between persons unless they are from the same household). This means that crematoria set the numbers that can attend by the size and layout of their chapels.
If any person is unwell, has symptoms, known to have been or possibly has been in contact with anyone that could be unwell then we ask them to please not attend the funeral.
In Wales, most cemeteries have restricted the number of persons who can attend a burial to 50. This is in line with the Government’s instruction on public gatherings. (NOTE: The clergy in charge of some burial grounds are still personally setting a limit to numbers that can attend).
In England, there is no restriction on the numbers of persons who can attend a burial.
As a guide, Pentrebychan Crematorium can accommodate up to 20 persons with the social distancing requirements of 2 metres (Children under 16 years of age are not included in the numbers), but in recognition of the fact that household members may be seated together, this means that they no longer specify this figure to families. There are 9 pews available for use within the chapel, and a pew can seat either two individuals sat socially distanced, or a household of up to five people. Whilst this change could potentially result in 45 attendees, this would only occur if the organiser invited 9 households each containing 5 people. It is stressed that only those who have been ‘expressly invited’ should attend the funeral service, and that it is the responsibility of the person organising the funeral to only invite those that can be safely seated in the chapel in a way which complies with the Welsh Government Regulations and Guidance.
Flintshire (Northop) Crematorium can accommodate up to 30 persons and now allow an additional 20 to stand outside under the canopy where there is an external speaker.
At Chester Crematorium there is no longer a legal requirement to maintain social distancing at a funeral, however there is an increased risk of spreading COVID-19 at a funeral service by the very nature that it brings people together. Please help by maintaining your distance from the cemeteries and crematorium staff and by ensuring this message is relayed to anyone attending the funeral service. Families will now have two options with regards to funeral services which differ based on whether the funeral party intend to practice social distancing or not (we appreciate there are families out there who will still want to do this);
Option A: Where the family wish to maintain social distancing the funeral party should be no larger than 33 people. This will allow for individuals to socially distance, 2 metre intervals will remain marked on the pews by yellow tape
Option B: Where the family do not wish to maintain social distancing the maximum size of the funeral party will be 90. It is important for a limit to remain in place to help prevent funeral parties from mixing with each other, to ensure we are able to empty the chapel in a prompt fashion at the end of the service and to continue carrying out our enhanced clean down before the next service.
Please note that for both options there is still a requirement to stay apart from the crematorium staff and from the funeral celebrant / minister taking the service.
NOTE: All the crematoria, council cemeteries and churches require all family, friends, clergy and funeral staff attending a funeral to complete, or have completed on their behalf, a form to comply with ‘Track and Trace’. These details will be shared with the NHS, only where necessary, to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The details will be destroyed after 21 days.
Face masks must be worn by mourners and funeral staff at all churches and crematoria in Wales unless the person is exempt on medical grounds. Masks can be removed by any clergy, celebrants and family when speaking from the pulpit or lectern. In England, masks are no longer compulsory.
Pentrebychan Crematorium have disabled their outside speaker to discourage more people than permitted arriving as there have been a few instances of groups of friends congregating outside the chapel, thus preventing the families of the next funeral from waiting outside the chapel for their service or having to pass through groups of people after their service. Please do not invite family and friends to stand outside the crematorium chapel.
The Crematoria are disinfecting their chapels between funerals and have hand sanitizer available.
Flintshire Crematorium (Northop) offers live webcasting and/or audio/visual recording of the services. Chester Crematorium offers a free live webcasting of services. We can livestream (subject to 4G availability) and/or make an audio/visual recording of services if wished.
Service/hymn books have been removed from crematorium chapels and places of worship and in Wales singing of hymns, soloists, chanting and use of wind instruments is not permitted. We can still provide printed leaflets if you wish for an order of service and many families are choosing to listen to choral recordings of hymns. We are not giving out mourner record of attendance cards and pens at this time as the funerals are invite only, therefore persons attending are known to the family.
In England, singing of hymns is permitted again.
We have been asked to discourage shouldering of the coffin and that the wheel bier is used.
We have been instructed to not allow mourners to congregate around the coffin or touch the coffin in any manner at the service.
Donations on the open plate at the funeral are discouraged and should be sent directly to the charity or given on-line. We can set up an on-line giving page for registered charities if wished.
The waiting room and Book of Remembrance room at Pentrebychan Crematorium will be closed to the public until further notice. The grounds are open to visitors following the social distancing rules. Witnessed ashes scatterings have resumed again with a maximum of 8 persons attending.
Limousines can be provided to carry up to six passengers, but the passengers must be from the same or extended household (two households joined together and not meeting with any other household).
Wakes: In Wales, hospitality venues can open again and it is permitted to have pre-organised bookings with a maximum of 50 people outdoors and 30 people indoors. For private addresses/homes, the rule is that up to six people from different households can meet outside (not including carers or children under 11 from any of these households). Gatherings indoors are only permitted for members of the same or extended household (two households joined together and not meeting with any other household).
In England, there are no restrictions on numbers attending wakes, but the individual establishments can set their on restrictions on numbers and the wearing of masks.
We ask for your understanding in the increase of obvious use of hygiene procedures and equipment. Whereas we usually prefer to keep this discreet, it is highly important that we follow all current hygiene advice for the safety of both our staff and yourselves.
We understand that these measures will make an already upsetting time more difficult and we are so sorry that we may not be able to carry out the kind of funeral you would have preferred at this time. These are unprecedented times and we must follow strict guidelines. We hope by working together we can still offer a dignified farewell for your loved one.
This is an ever changing situation and we will update this information as and when we know more. Please do contact us if you have any other queries and we will do our utmost to assist you.