Covid funeral limits to be removed in England this month

Laura Sharman
·3-min read

The number of mourners allowed to attend funerals in England will be lifted this month but masks may still need to be worn, the Government has said.

Bereaved families will be able to invite more than 30 mourners to funerals from May 17. It will be up to venues to determine how many people can safely attend while maintaining social distancing.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced the plans on Monday as part of the next stage of easing lockdown.

The new rules apply to both indoor and outdoor venues and all organisers must continue to be Covid-secure and follow social distancing rules, the Government added.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The British people have made huge sacrifices throughout the pandemic to protect the NHS and save lives, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the deeply painful restrictions on the numbers attending funerals.

“Losing a loved one has been incredibly hard during the pandemic and I am pleased we are now in a position, thanks to everyone’s continued efforts and the rollout of the vaccine, to remove these limits and allow more friends and family to come together and pay their respects.”

During lockdown some families have had to watch a relative’s funeral service on mobile phones in car parks because of the restrictions. Officials have also interrupted funerals to tell mourners to maintain social distancing on some occasions.

Jon Levett, chief executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors, welcomed the move.

He said: “Throughout the pandemic the Government has made sure immediate families were able to be there to say goodbye to a loved one and this has always been valued.

“But it’s critical that all those who are grieving are not forgotten in the reopening of society - and for many families, the current restrictions have meant telling people very close to the person that has died that they simply couldn’t be there.

“We’d still also like to see the Government move forward with its plan to trust the public to make informed, personal decisions about social contact - using testing as a safety mechanism - enabling us all to offer the simple comfort of holding hands, or giving a much-needed hug, to those who are isolated in their grief.”

Limits for other life or commemorative events are expected to remain as set out in the road map, the department said.

Under the third step, from no earlier than May 17 up to 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, and other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Most social contact rules outside will also be lifted, although gatherings of more than 30 people will remain illegal.

Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply but the Government has said it will keep this under review.

Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.

Foreign holidays could be permitted for people living in England with the price of a PCR test set to fall to £45.

Limited crowds will also be permitted at sporting events.

All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from June 21, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.

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