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.
There were major legislative changes passed in parliament on Friday, 27th March 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 are still offering to make funeral arrangements face to face, but we request that the persons making the arrangements keep to one or two in numbers and that you come to our office to discuss arrangements where we have more control over the environment. 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. If your loved one is known to have been, or were suspected of being infected with the Covid-19 virus, unfortunately we are not able to dress them in their own clothes and we will provide a gown. We have available gowns that are made to look like suits if preferred to a standard robe gown. This is to protect our staff from the risk of onward infection through additional contact.
Some churches have resumed funeral services from 20th July. 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 list of persons who may attend a funeral (members of the deceased’s household, close family, and a friend only if no household or family members were attending, plus carers of persons attending) has been changed again. From Tuesday, 7th April, the Welsh Government have passed legislation stating it will be the person arranging the funeral and anyone invited by that person (or any carer of any of those persons) who may attend a funeral (and will be considered to have a reasonable excuse for leaving their homes) up 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 in public. Please note that this 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 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. Cemeteries have restricted the number of persons who can attend a burial to 30. 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).
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.
As a guide, Pentrebychan Crematorium can accommodate up to 20 persons with the social distancing requirements. Flintshire (Northop) Crematorium can accommodate up to 30 persons. Chester Crematorium can accommodate up to 30 persons in their chapel and, from 24th July, this can be both family and friends as the stipulation for family only will be removed. 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 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.
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 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 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.
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 household or a two household ‘bubble’ if one of the households is a single person.
Hospitality venues have had to close once again and ‘post funeral’ gatherings are not permitted.
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.