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Friday 3rd July 2020

Will funerals be postponed? The UK faces restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak

"One of the most difficult things we might have to face"

As the UK continues to fight the spread of coronavirus, Brits are being warned that funerals may be postponed.

Earlier this month, it was reported that crematoriums around the country have plans in place to cope with a spike in the number of people dying as a result of COVID-19.

Funeral bosses have insisted they will be able to carry out round-the-clock cremations if need be, while services can be streamed to family members via live link if they are not able to attend due to self-isolation or travel restrictions.

Will funerals be postponed in the UK?

Funerals may be postponed in the UK due to coronavirus.

This week, the UK government introduced a bill that would give new powers to ministers and bodies such as the police and Border Force in the fight against coronavirus.

Read more: Piers Morgan tells Boris Johnson to 'get a grip' and help people pay their bills 

Part of the proposed new legislation did cover funerals and how the the process of burial and cremation could alter as the UK adapts to the outbreak.

Some of the bureaucracy around the process could be removed, including expanding the list of those eligible to register deaths to include funeral directors acting on behalf of grieving families.

Funeral directors need a very clear national policy to work to.

In addition, local councils would be able to take over managing deaths if it seemed likely that capacity to manage the deceased more locally would be overwhelmed.

Coronavirus could see individual burials temporarily become a thing of the past (Credit: Pixabay)

Will there be a limit on people who can attend funerals?

The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) has called for clear guidance on burials and cremations, including whether or not there will be restrictions on the number of mourners who can be present.

Jon Levett, NAFD chief executive, said: "Funeral directors need a very clear national policy to work to and we are concerned by inconsistencies of advice appearing across the UK which is making it impossible for funeral directors to give accurate advice.

"For example, if there are restrictions on numbers of people gathering, bereaved people need to know exactly what this means for funeral services and how funeral directors can support them."

According to the LA Times, over in the US in Los Angeles, many directors have been refusing to hold funeral services in chapels, with some offering only small graveside burials with a maximum of 10 people.

Brits are still being encouraged to limit social contact in the coronavirus outbreak (Credit: Nils Jorgensen/Cover Images)

Will individual funerals still be possible if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse?

Ministers have warned that if the number of COVID-19 deaths reaches the "top end of the reasonable worst case scenario", it could mean that individual funerals temporarily become a thing of the past.

Vaughan Gething, Wales' Health Minister, admitted the idea was among "the most difficult things we might have to face" as he discussed the emergency powers being proposed with other members of the Welsh Assembly.

Read more: Coronavirus: Eamonn Holmes branded 'inappropriate' as he tells This Morning viewers to 'live on takeaways'

He said: "If we really are seeing a level of mortality that means that the normal process can't cope then we'd have to make changes. And the initial part could be about increasing storage of the deceased and powers for local authorities to acquire places to store bodies.

"And then we have to consider what that means in terms of whether it's burial or disposal and whether it's possible that single disposal may not be possible at the top end of the reasonable worst case scenario."

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