Lockdown in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – funerals, 5th January 2021

England has been placed under a new national lockdown from 5th January 2021. The message is that people must stay at home, except for a variety of permitted reasons.

Funerals can still take place. The Government’s guidance states:

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals are allowed with strict limits on attendance, and must only take place in COVID-19 secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances.

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked religious, belief-based or commemorative events, such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 6 people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in these limits. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Guidance on the English National Lockdown can be found here.

In Scotland the First Minister has announced a new lockdown for mainland Scotland. For funerals the guidance states:

Under these lockdown measures, funeral services may continue and in-person attendance at funeral services continues to be limited to a maximum of 20 people. Funeral-related commemorative events (e.g. scattering of ashes or stone setting) may also continue in an outdoor, public place or in a regulated indoor venue, with a maximum of 20 people in attendance. However, post-funeral gatherings such as wakes are now prohibited under these new restrictions for mainland Scotland. The Scottish islands currently in protection level 3 will remain in level 3 and post-funeral gatherings can continue to take place with up to 20 people.

The changes to post-funeral gatherings come into force from Friday 8 January. The restrictions are expected to be in place for at least four weeks, but will be kept under review.

For more information on how this impacts funerals, you can read the Scottish Government Funeral Industry blog post here. 

In Wales, people are instructed to stay at home except for very limited purposes. The guidance regarding funerals states one of those purposes as:

To attend a funeral if you are organising it, are invited by the person organising the funeral, or are the carer of a person attending the funeral.

The Welsh Government guidance on funerals can be found here.

In Northern Ireland, a six week lockdown started on 26th December 2020. The guidance on funerals states:

Funerals are limited to 25 people. Pre and post-funeral gatherings are not permitted. The remains of the deceased may be taken back to private homes, but wakes are not to be held and funeral services in private homes are not to take place. Existing restrictions on households apply. A person responsible for organising or operating a funeral or associated event elsewhere must comply with guidance on managing funerals and associated gatherings issued by the Department of Health.