The regulations for funerals across all parts of the UK are being strictly enforced by Funeral Directors, Crematoria and Churches in the interests of everyone's safety. 

Lifting restrictions on attendance

Funeral directors have worked hard to support bereaved families in creating meaningful services throughout the pandemic. Although we are now emerging slowly from restrictions, the four UK nations have different restrictions and dates for relaxation. Families are encouraged to work with their funeral director to say goodbye to a loved one within the restrictions, rather than seeking to delay until such time as they might be lifted.

Although most restrictions have been removed, please be very aware that it is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19 even if you are fully vaccinated. It is therefore important to take steps to protect yourselves and others from COVID-19. This is particularly true for funerals, where the risk of COVID-19 may be higher due to the attendance of people who are legally exempted from self-isolation or quarantine, who either have or are at higher risk of having COVID-19. Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell), must not attend a funeral (unless an exemption applies). You must immediately self-isolate and follow the stay at home guidance


The following guidance has been issued by the Government for funerals or commemorative events and is relevant to;

  • members of the public who may be attending a funeral or commemorative event 
  • members of the public who may be involved in arranging a funeral or commemorative event
  • professionals who may be involved in arranging or managing a funeral or commemorative event

For the purposes of this guidance, the phrase ‘commemorative event’ includes events and rituals such as stone setting ceremonies, the scattering of ashes, and wakes. Such events may take place before or following the funeral.

There are now no legal limits on the number of people who can attend funerals or commemorative events. Those attending, arranging or managing such events should consider that it may be harder to manage the risk of spreading COVID-19 if spaces are crowded, and venue operators are entitled to set their own limits to protect their staff and users. Those involved in arranging or managing such events should see the working safely guidance.


The number who are able to attend a funeral indoors is limited by the capacity of the venue where it is being held, once physical distancing measures have been taken into account. To ensure that the maximum number that can attend is observed attendance must be by invitation only. 


From 19 July 2021, Scotland will move into level 0. Up to 200 people will be able to attend a funeral service. Up to 200 people will also be able to attend a post-funeral gathering in a regulated venue. A post-funeral gathering held at a private dwelling must follow the general rules on indoor and outdoor gathering.

Physical distancing rules will change, which will mean:

  • physical distancing between households (including extended households) will be set at 1m indoors for funeral services and post-funeral gatherings in regulated venues
  • general physical distancing requirements in public spaces, including regulated venues (e.g. crematoriums) will be reduced from 2 metres to 1 metre, both indoors and outdoors
  • general gatherings limits on outdoor gatherings in a public space will be 15 people from 15 households. Additionally, there are no requirements to physically distance outside within a social grouping of up to 15 people, but 1 metre distancing should be maintained from all others outside

Northern Ireland:

Funeral services are not permitted in private homes.

The number permitted to attend funerals in places of worship, funeral homes, the City of Belfast Crematorium or at a burial ground is to be informed by a risk assessment for the venue.

Where the death is not COVID-19 related, the remains of the deceased may be taken back to private homes where existing restrictions on household gatherings apply.

A person responsible for organising or operating a funeral or associated event elsewhere must comply with any restrictions issued by the Department of Health for Northern Ireland.

What Funeral Directors and Crematoria say

Funeral Directors and Crematoria have offered us the following advice to anyone planning a funeral during the pandemic, whatever the cause of death.

  1. NO-ONE who has tested positive for Covid-19, been in contact with someone who has tested positive or was a member of the household of someone who died of Covid-19 must attend the funeral. 
  2. Most crematoria are able to webcast the service for families so that those who cannot attend can still be part of the service and watch safely at home.  A minimum of 48 hours notice is required in most crematoria SO PLEASE ASK FOR A WEBCAST IN GOOD TIME. You will be sent a link which you can share with as many people as you wish.
  3. Please discourage friends and family who you are unable to include in your invited group from going to the church or crematorium. Plan instead to celebrate your loved one's life with a memorial service or a wake next year when the danger of the virus spreading has passed.
  4. Please be aware that all funeral services at crematoria are currently lasting about 25 minutes maximum. Your celebrant or minister will be asked to ensure the service finishes on time. Eulogies need to be limited under these restrictions.
  5. Inside the crematorium or church, please be aware of the following rules which still apply; 
    1. The staff are required by law to only permit the permitted number of people into the chapel. As they do not know who has been invited to attend, please ensure your guests arrive on time and make themselves known to the Funeral Director or Chapel Attendant. 
    2. Guests attending a service will be told where to sit, with social distancing rules applicable at the time strictly enforced.
    3. Although singing is not currently permitted during funeral services, the Church or Crematorium can still play the music you or your loved one would have liked for the service. 
    4. Gathering around the catafalque, touching the surfaces and the coffin, will not be permitted because of the risk of spreading Covid-19. This rule is also being enforced in the interests of everyone's safety.
    5. Family and friends often gather in the crematorium flower court or outside the church to talk and look at the flowers. This is still not safe to do at the moment and people should leave immediately on exit from the chapel or the church.

This is a very challenging time for everyone and even more challenging for those who have been bereaved. Funeral Directors, churches and crematoria staff know that the regulations are not allowing people to say goodbye to their loved ones in the way they would have wished. They do not want this for bereaved families and would prefer not to have to enforce the law at funerals - it doesn't feel right for anyone.

So, please do not challenge them or get frustrated with them. They are working especially hard at the moment to ensure that the goodbyes are as good as they can be, but with the added responsibility of ensuring that everyone is kept safe. Please respect them. Please be kind to them. They are on your side.