Keeping you informed on how Covid-19 is impacting Golden Leaves and the wider funeral industry

Covid-19 Update

COVID-19 Announcement

Please be assured that Golden Leaves remain open during the COVID-19 lockdown. In such uncertain times, we are here to help with information and guidance.

We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented level of new applications, and increased enquiries from existing plan-holders. We are also following HM Government guidelines, with the majority of our team now working remotely. In light of this, you may experience some delays in response times across our general administrative, compliance and finance processes, and increased call waiting times. We thank you in advance for your patience.

If the reason for your call is not urgent, please contact us by email at info@goldenleaves.com.

Please take care and stay safe,

Golden Leaves.

The Impact Of COVID-19 On Funerals

We know the difficulty that comes with losing a loved one, especially during such challenging times. The outbreak of COVID-19 — and the number of UK cases — has had an impact on how funerals are arranged and held.

We have altered the way we operate to comply with government safety guidelines and are working hard to deliver the best service possible at this time. We are here to provide expert advice and help you to hold a funeral that is personal and worthy of your loved one.

The government currently advise that funerals can still go ahead, as long as they adhere to safety guidelines to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19. The services offered by funeral directors have also been restricted, which means funerals may go ahead differently than originally expected. We will do our best to fulfil your individual wishes while following safety guidelines.

This situation and guidance from the Government is changing almost daily — please refer back to this page, which will be updated as we learn more. For more information, see our FAQs below or get in touch with us at info@goldenleaves.com

For the latest information and guidelines from the government on managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic, please click here

FAQs

First steps

A. What should I do if someone passes away during the pandemic?

If you lose a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several steps you must take before the funeral can be arranged.

  • Getting a medical certificate of cause of death
  • Registering your loved one’s death
  • Contacting Golden Leaves to make arrangements for the removal of the deceased to a Chapel of Rest.

Your funeral director may ask you for details of where your loved one is resting and whether they may have had COVID-19  or the associated symptoms.

For more information, please refer to our guide on what to do if someone dies.

B. Will it make a difference to the funeral plans if the person passed away due to COVID-19?

The current government restrictions apply equally to all funerals, no matter the cause of death. These guidelines are in place to minimise the spread of the virus and protect key workers, including funeral, cemetery and crematorium staff, while also recognising the needs of the bereaved to mourn appropriately. It’s important to note that all funeral directors and firms will have their own policies in place regarding chapel visitation, pallbearing and other aspects of the service. Please discuss any further details with your funeral director.

Arranging a funeral during the pandemic

C. How many people can attend the funeral and who can attend the funeral?

Communities, organisations and individuals are strongly advised to follow theseguidelines to reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus among mourners who are gathered to pay their respects, with a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically vulnerable and more likely to develop severe illness:

  • To restrict the number of mourners to be as low as possible in order to ensure a safe distance of at least 2 metres (6 ft) is maintained between individuals from different households all times.
    • The size of the venue and the circumstances of the funeral will determine the maximum number of attendees that can safely be accommodated while observing social distancing.
    • Venue managers may set caps on numbers in order to ensure this. Please discuss this in advance with your funeral director
  • Alongside the Funeral Director, Chapel Attendant, and funeral staff only the following should attend:
    • members of the person’s household
    • close family members
    • or if the above are unable to attend, close friends
    • attendance of a celebrant of choice, should the bereaved request this
  • To ensure that correct social distancing is maintained when travelling to and from the funeral gathering
  • That mourners who are clinically vulnerable or in a shielded group should also be able to attend, with processes put in place to minimise the risk of transmission
  • Any mourner who is showing Coronavirus symptoms should not attend the funeral and should remain at home in isolating as per Government guidelines

D. I’m self Isolating, can I still attend the funeral?

Mourners who are self-isolating for 14 days due to someone in their household being unwell with symptoms of coronavirus, but are not symptomatic themselves, should be able to attend the funeral in person, with processes put in place to minimise the risk of transmission. Mourners who are from a household that is self-isolating should:

  • not attend if they have any symptoms of any kind, even if these are very mild
  • maintain a distance of at least 2 metres between themselves and all others from different households
  • advise other mourners that they are otherwise self-isolating at home, to ensure that social distancing is observed
  • not attend at the same time as another mourner who may be extremely clinically vulnerable
  • practise careful hand and respiratory hygiene:
    • wash their hands more often – with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitiser.
    • avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth
    • covering their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin

E. How can we include other family members and friends in the funeral if they are not allowed to attend?

There are many ways to include family and friends who are unable to attend but want to feel involved in the service. You may choose to live-stream the service using a platform such as Zoom or Google Hangout, or record the service for a viewing at a later time. Another option is to set up an online memorial site, where mourners can contribute photographs, music and memories of your loved one in their own way.You may prefer to hold the funeral now, and then arrange a memorial or celebration of life service when physical distancing rules have been relaxed and more in-person attendees are permitted. For more details, see FAQ S.

We are here to help you find a way to celebrate the life of your loved one that best meets your wishes. Don’t hesitate to speak to a Golden Leaves advisor or your funeral director for more support in making these decisions.

F. What should I say to people who still want to attend the funeral, even if they are not allowed?

We understand that this process can be painful, but it is important to explain to them that funerals of more than ten attendees are not permitted under current government restrictions.

The unexpected arrival of additional attendees can be distressing for everyone involved, as they may be turned away at the door under government guidance. Therefore, we advise that you do not publicly advertise the details of the funeral, in order to reduce the risk of additional mourners arriving without notice.

G. Can I visit my loved one in a Chapel of Rest?

Visitation restrictions in the Chapel of Rest vary between each funeral director. Visiting hours may be reduced, and there may be limitations on the number of visitors allowed to enter the Chapel. Unfortunately, if the passing of your loved one was related to COVID-19, you may be unable to visit the Chapel of Rest to prevent further spread of the virus. Please get in touch with your funeral director to learn more about their Chapel of Rest visitation policies.

H. How are funeral days and times affected?

Days and times will vary by location, depending on availability. We suggest speaking with your funeral director to better understand the circumstances at your chosen facility.

I. How will I make arrangements with the funeral director if I am self-isolating?

Discussions and arrangements with your funeral director will take place over the phone. Your appointed funeral director will call you to offer guidance and next steps at this difficult time.

J. Can I still choose between a burial and a cremation?

Yes, both options are still available. Choosing between a burial and a cremation is a personal decision.

K. What happens if certain aspects or items in the funeral plan are no longer possible?

Unfortunately, elements of your funeral plan may be affected by current government restrictions. We understand that accepting these changes may be difficult, but these guidelines are in place for the safety of all funeral attendees and staff. Limitations to your plan may differ between locations and funeral directors, so we’ll work with you and the funeral director to provide you with the best service possible.

L. Can the funeral still be personalised?

While there are government restrictions in place that may cause changes to your personal funeral plan, there are still many ways to personalise the service and make it special for you and your family. Please contact Golden Leaves to discuss potential options.

M. Will a hearse still be provided for the funeral?

Yes, a hearse will still be provided to transport your loved one to the cemetery or crematorium.

N. Can a limousine still be used for the funeral?

Funeral directors are following government guidelines as the situation continues to change. While some are restricting limousine capacity, others are completely withdrawing limousines from use. For public health reasons, we recommend that you travel to the funeral using your own transport, if possible. Please reach out to your funeral director for more information.

With regard to face coverings in transport, the Department for Transport (DfT) has provided the following clarification in relation to the use of limousines and funeral vehicles:

“Passengers are legally required to wear a face covering when travelling in a funeral director vehicle or hearse. They are also strongly recommended for drivers.”

O. Are pallbearers permitted in the service?

Unfortunately, under current government restrictions, pallbearers are not permitted to carry your loved one’s coffin or casket during the service. In place of pallbearers, a professional funeral director will bring the coffin or casket into the service on a wheeled bier.

P. Can flowers still be displayed at the service?

Where there is access to local florist services, your appointed funeral director can assist you in arranging a modest display.  However, options may be limited depending on your area, where local businesses may be closed. We understand that friends and family may wish to send flowers as a mark of respect — as a safer option, please consider asking for donations to a chosen charity instead.

Q. Can readings still be included in the service?

Yes, you may still choose readings to honor your loved one during the service. Readings will take place in the crematorium for cremation services or graveside for burial services. Your chosen readings should be agreed with your appointed funeral director before the day of the funeral.

Holding a funeral during the pandemic

R. How will social distancing and safety measures affect the funeral?

During the service, we advise you to continue following government safety guidelines. If you are attending alongside anyone outside of your household, you should maintain at least a two-metre distance and avoid any physical contact with them. Celebrants and ministers are still permitted to lead the service, however they will also follow government safety guidelines and keep at least a two-metre distance from all attendees.Please note that social distancing and safety measures may impact other areas of the service, depending on the policies of your funeral director and chosen facility. For instance, gardens may be closed, attendees may be restricted from touching the coffin or casket, and any charitable donations may need to be done online. Please contact your appointed funeral director if you have any further questions.

S. Is there an option to hold a funeral now and a service later?

Yes. If you prefer, your funeral director can help you to arrange a memorial service at a later date when government restrictions have been relaxed. This may allow you to celebrate the life of your loved one with a larger number of attendees, and to include other personal choices that may be unavailable in the current situation. There are many ways to make a later memorial service special. If a cremation was chosen, you may wish to arrange a memorial service that includes the scattering or interment of ashes. If a burial was chosen, a graveside memorial service can be arranged.

T. Can I visit the cemetery or crematorium again after the funeral?

Unfortunately, visits to crematoriums, cemeteries and their grounds are not currently permitted unless you are attending a funeral. We know that this is a particularly difficult time for mourners, and we understand that visits to a grave or other place of memorial can be especially important when remembering your loved one. Visitation will be permitted again when restrictions have been relaxed.

SAIF Updates:

England 

Cabinet Office funerals meeting update 
SAIF participated in a funeral sector coronavirus conference call with the Cabinet Office this week and was informed that there are likely to be changes to the number of people in England who may attend pre and post-funeral events, which are deemed ceremonial or religious, such as scattering of ashes. Currently, these events are restricted to six people. But with the new regulations that are due to come into force, it will allow 30 mourners to these pre or post ceremonial or religious events. SAIF will be sure to update members as soon as information becomes available.

We also reported earlier this week about new regulations which provide an exemption to attend funerals for people who have tested positive for coronavirus or who have been required to self isolate by the NHS Test and Trace system. This has caused some concern amongst SAIF members and we are informed that guidance is being drafted which will strongly recommend affected people attend online. SAIF, via the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG), requested the Government to reconsider the regulations in order to ensure the safety of bereaved people and funeral director staff. Separately, SAIF is aware that some local authorities are defying the regulations and refusing to allow people who have tested positive for Covid-19 or who are self isolating to access crematoria or cemeteries. We strongly advise you to maintain close communication with your local crematoria and cemetery operators to avoid any potential conflicts with families on this matter.

With regard to face coverings in transport, the Department for Transport (DfT) has provided SAIF with the following clarification in relation to the use of limousines and funeral vehicles:

“Passengers are legally required to wear a face covering when travelling in a funeral director vehicle or hearse. They are also strongly recommended for drivers.”

It is DfT’s understanding that a funeral car would count as public transport and therefore passengers or mourners would be required to wear a face covering. Drivers are not required to wear one, however, it is advisable.

Northern Ireland

New restrictions in Derry and Strabane
First Minister Arlene Foster this week announced new restrictions in Derry city and Strabane district which ban indoor gatherings in community halls or similar places. However, funerals are exempted from the measures. Prebooked funeral teas may also take place in hotels, whilst other hospitality venues are required to only offer outdoor dining, takeaways and delivery services.

Please continue to refer back to this page, which will be updated as we learn more or please click here for details of the government guidelines.