This is an unprecedented time in our history. The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on the health of our loved ones, our work, our businesses, our health system and the way we live our daily lives. As we all continue to navigate through these unique and evolving challenges we want to keep you updated on what is happening with funerals and funeral regulations.
Before giving the latest updates we would like to assure you that we are still available 24 hours a day to answer questions and support you if you are confused, worried or dealing with a bereavement. We are fully set up so that family or friends can arrange a funeral by phone or video chat with all paperwork sent immediately and signed electronically for your safety.
Last updated Friday 3rd April at 8.30am
Directives and Guidelines
As with daily life the situation regarding funerals is changing fast. We are complying with all guidelines for the safety of both clients and staff and in order to fulfil our social responsibility to the community we serve. Here is the current situation according to the latest guidelines:
- Funeral attendance is now limited to immediate family who are not in a high risk category and not self isolating. This includes:
- Children (and partners)
- We are currently advised that attendance should be limited to an absolute maximum of 8 to 10 people, we would suggest 4 to 5 maximum.
- We are hearing talk of funeral attendance being prohibited in the near future but nothing definite. We will update this the very minute we hear anything more.
- No limousines may be provided for funerals as they constitute a direct infection hazard.
- Funeral arrangements are now to be done by phone or video link. We have a very efficient system for sending all documents by email and these can be signed and returned by email securely.
- If you are not able to do an arrangement this way, for example you do not have access to email, then we can permit 1 or 2 people into the office to do the arrangement. The office is sterilised every day and visitors will be provided with hand sanitiser and will at no point be closer than 2m from any member of staff.
- The coffin will be carried into the chapel before the mourners enter in order to protect all attending from unnecessary exposure. Once the bearers have left family and mourners will be invited into the chapel.
- Unfortunately family will no longer be able to carry the coffin at this time. We appreciate this might be upsetting but the reasons are as follows:
- We cannot allow family to carry with our staff as this would mean close physical proximity, well within 2m, for a prolonged period of time.
- We cannot permit the family to carry alone as we are not able to provide a close escort (again, the 2m rule) and it is our responsibility that the coffin is carried safely and without incident into the chapel. We are not able to fulfilled this responsibility under current limitations.
- At the present time we are not able to offer viewings in our Chapel of Rest. Preparations for viewing involves prolonged contact between staff and the deceased and due to the fact that we cannot know the infectious status of any individual at this point we have been advised that it could present a hazard for both family and staff. We will be reviewing this and other identified risks as we move forward and will make viewings available as soon as we can do so safely.
- Curtains will be closed during the committal at all cremations and mourners will not be permitted to approach or lay flowers on the coffin.
- No donations can be collected at the funeral as money can carry live and infectious virus for up to nine days.
- Services in churches or other places of worship are not allowed as places of worship have all been closed by order of the government.
- Your Celebrant or Minister will provide all service information and do all arrangements with you over the phone.
- No hymn books will be laid out in the chapel to avoid contamination.
- It is no longer possible to visit graves or the garden of remembrance as the cemetery and crematorium are now closed to the public unless attending a funeral.
- All local crematoria have the facility to provide webcasts of your service that will be streamed live and available afterwards. (If there is any charge for this then Penrose will cover that cost for you)
- Update – we are now informed that Southend Crematorium are providing this facility at no charge.
Some changes have now been enacted into law concerning the process of registering a death and planning a funeral. Here are the ones that may be relevant to bereaved families:
- Funeral Directors are now allowed to register a death acting on behalf of the family. (This is not intended to be standard practice but to be used if the death rate from Covid 19 rises considerably.)
- It is now possible to present documents electronically (that previously had to be presented physically) in order to certify the registration of a death
- It is no longer necessary to have a second confirmatory medical certificate in order for a cremation to take place. The direct result for those arranging a funeral is that there will be a £82 reduction in the funeral cost as well as an accelerated timeframe.
This is the current situation concerning funerals and we will keep this updated daily or more often if necessary. These guidelines are clearly set in place to protect the health and wellbeing of all concerned. We are very sorry that this can severely limit the opportunity for family and friends to say farewell to a loved one and we assure you that we will do all we can to help minimise the disruption caused.
What to do in the event of a death
The situation concerning bringing your loved ones into our care is also affected by the need to keep our staff as safe as possible. However the majority of the procedures are still the same as normal and you can see clear information on who to call and when to call them here. Of course you can call us at any time on 01702 436000 for advice and help and an immediate response in the event of a death.
Non Covid deaths
When a death occurs at home or in a care home or hospice without knowledge of infection we cannot, unfortunately, be sure that no infection is present. For this reason our staff will take careful precautions and wear masks and gloves while taking care of your loved one. We will have to treat each case as if infection might be present and take all reasonable precautions.
When death occurs with someone who is known to carry, or suspected to carry, the Covid 19 infection extra precautions will have to be taken. We will still come to your home to take your loved one into our care and we will still treat the deceased with full respect and dignity. We will, however, be required to enter the premises with great care, fully suited and protected, and we will follow strict safety guidelines at every stage. We are aware that this can seem quite intense and distressing at a time of deep personal loss and we apologise for this but we ask everyone to be understanding about the risks our staff are taking and the care we must provide to them as well as to the departed.
We take the health and safety of our staff and clients very seriously, but you should be assured that we will still treat the deceased with the same respect and care as always.
How to arrange a funeral
Bereaved in isolation
For those in self-isolation making funeral arrangements can be daunting so please contact us on 01702 436 000 if you need advice. We have set up our systems so that we can do all of the arrangements for you over the phone – or by video call – and handle all of the paperwork and signing electronically.
Even if you are not in self isolation it is now the requirement from the government that people undertake no unnecessary travel or congregating. For this reason we would ask you to make use of our excellent facilities for handling all discussions and planning by phone or video call in order to protect both yourselves and our staff from risk of contamination.
Watching the funeral from home
Local crematoria can set up live webcasts for funerals so that all family and friends are able to observe the funeral in real time. If there is any charge involved for this then Penrose will happily cover that charge for all of our clients.
As an independent family run funeral director we are dedicated to a high quality of service and care to our clients. Because of this we ask families to remain patient as we update our health and safety procedures and deal with the increased workload and issues caused by staff who have to self isolate.
Lastly we extend our personal sympathy to those experiencing bereavement and having to deal with all of the extra issues raised by the Coronavirus. Our commitment remains to serve our clients and our local community as best we can whilst adhering to guidelines and protecting our staff and clients to the best of our ability.