“The limit on the number of guests allowed at funerals is the latest COVID-19 restriction to be eased in NSW,” Jenny Noyes reported in Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, (June 14).
From July 1, indoor venues will no longer be limited to 50 patrons but for funerals, the changes will come into effect immediately “on compassionate grounds,” Jenny said.
But you need to remember, compliance with the social distancing rule of one seated person per four square metres will still be required.
So the question needs to be asked, will everyone who wants to come be able to fit into the chapel or venue where the funeral is being held? Not all funeral chapels can hold large numbers, and some are quite small. Churches are larger, so this will be easier for them.
One funeral director we spoke to this morning said the NSW government will still require funeral directors to create a list with the name and the contact details, such as the telephone number of everyone who attends. (We noticed this was required in coffee shops over the weekend too.)
The funeral director we spoke to explained that the task of gathering the names and addresses is most likely to be passed on to the family to complete before the funeral starts. This prevents the problem of congestion at a venue door on the day, with staff asking “Is that one L or two?” “Is that Browne with an E” and all the delays this causes.
This new step of getting names and contact details has both negatives and positives. Even if inadvertedly, it’s a sorting exercise and therefore a restricting one. If someone didn’t give their name to the relatives beforehand will they be allowed in?
“But it has unexpected benefits too. One man who is organising a funeral for a family member said ‘This has been great. I’ve now got all the telephone numbers for my cousins, which I didn’t have before’,” the funeral director said.
Other changes are being reported too. Saimi Jeong said in Choice, on April 30, in her article Coronavirus restrictions are changing funeral rituals, that the Australian Funeral Directors Association says rates of no-service cremation, that is with no service of any kind, have doubled, “depending on the region, from 10–20% of their business to 20–35%.”
Some don’t believe this will change back, even after Covid-19 has gone.
For The SMH latest update on Covid-19 social distancing, go to: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/nsw-scraps-50-person-funeral-limit-as-nine-new-cases-of-covid-19-confirmed-20200614-p552fb.html
For Choice’s full report by Saimi Jeong, go to: https://www.choice.com.au/health-and-body/healthy-ageing/ageing-and-retirement/articles/restricted-funerals-during-covid-19-coronavirus-outbreak
To read a story about the impact of Covid-19 on funerals, at the height of restrictions, go to: