England 

Three-tier system of coronavirus prevention measures introduced in England
As SAIF members will likely have seen yesterday, the Government has switched to a tiered alert system of local interventions in an attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic. The three alert levels, which apply from 00.01 on Wednesday 14th September, are Medium, High and Very High. Medium is the default tier for all parts of England not facing more serious measures under High and Very High levels. For details of local lockdown restrictions in different areas of the UK, please view this webpage. Under all three levels, funeral services remain subject to Government guidelines as set out on the official webpage Guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic, with a range of specific elevated restrictions:

Medium
Funerals must only take place in Covid-19 Secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events (such as stone-settings) before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit down meal.

Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.


High
Funerals must only take place in Covid-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events (such as stone-settings) before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit down meal.

Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

People living outside of a high alert level area can travel to this area to attend an event, but they must not meet with another household indoors.


Very High
Funerals must only take place in Covid-19 Secure venues or in public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people in attendance. Wakes or linked ceremonial events before or after the funeral are limited to 15 people and must not take place in private homes. Where food or drink is consumed, this should be in the form of a sit-down meal to ensure people can keep their distance from each other.

Anyone working at a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, wake or funeral is not generally counted as part of the limit. Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6 or their own household, but social distancing should still be followed between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

People living outside of a Very High alert level area can travel to this area to attend an event, but they must not meet with another household in a private home or garden and we are asking them not to stay overnight.


SAIF members should also be aware that local authorities are able to further enhance these measures with more stringent rules should they deem it necessary. It is essential to remain in close contact with crematoria and cemetery operators to ensure families are advised appropriately of the most up-to-date information. 

Scotland

Tougher restrictions introduced in Scotland
Scotland has also strengthened coronavirus restrictions nationwide, including closing bars and pubs in the Central Belt area. However, funerals remain unaffected at this time. According to the Scottish Government, a “funeral service, as well as a funeral reception/wake are exempt from the new restrictions. Funerals can continue to take place with up to 20 people attending, and licensed venues, such as restaurants, are permitted to open and take bookings for the purpose of holding a funeral reception/wake for a maximum of 20 people.” SAIF advises members to let your clients know that receptions/wakes can still be booked at a licensed venue, should a venue choose to take bookings.

Wales

National lockdown considered by officials in Wales
Members of the Welsh Government are currently considering additional coronavirus prevention measures, including the option of a national lockdown. SAIF is monitoring the situation and will advise members in Wales of any changes that affect funerals. Announcements from the Welsh Government about local lockdowns and Covid-19 can be found here. Current guidelines relating to funerals in Wales can be found here

Northern Ireland

New restrictions expected soon in Northern Ireland
Government officials in Northern Ireland are debating possible new measures, with health representatives calling for additional restrictions by no later than this Friday. SAIF is paying close attention to updates and will inform members as soon as we hear anything. Current guidelines affecting funerals in Northern Ireland are available here

England, Scotland, Wales

Feedback about Tell Us Once
You may be aware of the Government’s Tell Us Once service, which enables bereaved families to inform official departments, just once, of a death.  It is free to use and is accessed via a Registrar. Many SAIF members may already provide Tell Us Once flyers to families to raise their awareness of the service. Officials would like to know whether you have received any feedback from clients about Tell Us Once. If so, please send a few lines back by way of response to the SAIF Business Centre at info@saif.org.uk.