How social distancing rules are changing funerals in Australia

Staff writer
·2-min read

This chapel is set up to adhere to social distancing rules for a funeral service, to be held on March 31 at Taylor and Forgie Funerals in Gawler, South Australia.

Australia has limited the number of people at weddings, funerals and social gatherings in a tightening of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

"This will be a significant sacrifice, I know," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra after an emergency meeting of state and territory leaders.

Morrison said on Monday that weddings could go ahead only with five people present, including the celebrant, while funerals could proceed with 10 people at most and outdoor social gatherings should also be limited to 10, Morrison added.

Therefore, it looks like a lot of the chairs in the footage above won't be needed.

Meanwhile, in the UK, while weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies are being stopped during the coronavirus lockdown, funerals will still be going ahead.

However, as lockdown measures also include a ban on social gatherings of more than two people, the government has yet to clarify how many people will be permitted to attend a funeral during this time.

Jon Levett, chief executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), said in a statement on Monday: "We have reached out to the Government to clarify a number of questions, including the maximum number of people that can attend a funeral – but our initial advice to funeral directors and the public is to arrange funerals over the phone wherever possible, restrict attendees to immediate close family only and respect social distancing guidelines.

"We understand that this advice may be very difficult for families, and funeral directors will do everything they can to help families say goodbye – using web streaming where possible to include other family members and perhaps planning a celebration of the person's life in the months to come – but it is vitally important we respect Government guidance for social distancing, to help stop the spread of Covid-19."