Are Wakes Allowed In Northern Ireland

Brent Mccoy
• Thursday, 26 November, 2020
• 9 min read

However, in England only six people (not including staff) can attend an ashes scattering, ritual washing or other linked event or custom associated with a funeral during the lockdown period. Many firms in England, Wales and Scotland have safely re-introduced limousines for bereaved clients, following guidance to ensure they can be used safely, including the use of perspex screens, limiting the number travelling to ensure they can sit as far back as possible and additional cleaning.

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This is not permitted under current social distancing laws, and they may be turned away at the door, which could be distressing for them and the bereaved family. From 6 January, during the national lockdown people are permitted to leave their homes to attend a funeral as well as other religious, belief-based, or commemorative events that are linked to a person’s death, as long as they follow the relevant rules and guidance.

Religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to a person’s death, such as stone setting ceremonies, the scattering of ashes or a wake, can also continue with up to 6 people in attendance. This advice is designed to assist members of the public who are attending or involved in organizing a funeral in England during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bereaved people are treated with sensitivity, dignity and respect funerals can continue to take place while minimizing the risk of infection You are permitted to leave your home to attend a funeral or commemorative event, but you should try and keep any arrangements local wherever possible.

The actual number of people able to attend will depend on how many people can be safely accommodated within the venue with social distancing, and where the funeral venue manager has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19. During the national lockdown, no more than 6 people can attend commemorative events such as stone setting ceremonies, the scattering of ashes or a wake.

Crematoriums and burial grounds will be open to the public, and you are permitted to leave your home to visit these locations. You should always stay socially distanced from anyone outside your household or support bubble and should follow guidance on meeting with others safely.

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While recognizing the importance of these rituals and gatherings, the actions detailed in this guidance are important in reducing the spread of infection, particularly to clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable people who may be at risk of severe illness. Any mourners who are not part of the same household or support bubble should follow social distancing guidelines.

However, you should take steps to minimize any new exposure, especially where people who are not part of the household, and those at risk of severe illness, may come into contact with the virus. Stay at least 2 meters away from others outside your household or support bubble wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth when coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and throw away the tissue safely.

If you do not have a tissue, use the crook of your elbow (not hands) to cough or sneeze into wear a face covering, as required by law when attending indoor places of worship, crematoria and burial ground chapels unless you are exempt for health, disability or other reasons. You should also wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

There is additional guidance on the use of face coverings avoid singing, shouting, chanting and raising your voice because this may increase the risk of airborne transmission of the virus They should be respectful of the vulnerable person’s need to avoid close contact at any point try to facilitate remote participation (for example, by live-streaming), particularly for anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and may be shielding ensure mourners avoid playing musical instruments that are blown.

Singing should be limited one person where possible (up to 3 individuals if it is essential to an act of worship), staying at least 2 meters apart, and should not include audience participation. Consider using instrumental music or recordings as an alternative to live singing remind mourners that spoken addresses and responses during a ceremony should not be in a raised voice.

The actual number of people able to attend will depend on how many people can be accommodated safely within the premises with social distancing, and where the organizer has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of 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), should not attend a funeral.

You should immediately self-isolate, follow the stay at home guidance, and request a test online, or by contacting NHS 119 via telephone if you do not have internet access. If you are legally required to self-isolate, you may only break self-isolation if attending the funeral of a close family member (for example, a partner, parent, sibling or grandparent).

You should practice rigorous hand and respiratory hygiene in addition to wearing a face covering, and should keep social interactions low. You are advised to travel to the venue in a car by yourself, or with someone from your household or support bubble (if you are eligible to form one).

Hotels may also remain open for the purposes of providing accommodation for anyone attending a funeral or commemorative event. Keeping to a small group of your household or support bubble if you need to use public transport opening windows for fresh air considering seating arrangements to maximize the distance between people in the vehicle travelling side-by-side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow facing away from each other making sure the car is cleaned between journeys using standard cleaning products, particularly door handles and other areas that people may touch wearing a face covering.

You are required by law to wear a face covering on public transport, in taxis and private hire vehicles unless you are exempt for health, disability or other reasons. Passengers who are not exempt are legally required to wear a face covering when travelling in a funeral director’s vehicle.

Stone setting ceremonies, the scattering of ashes and wakes are examples of such events. If the event is taking place in a private dwelling, including its grounds or gardens, only members of the household or support bubble can attend.

If you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace you must not break your isolation to attend any commemorative events. During the national lockdown, hospitality venues are not permitted to open to hold commemorative events.

Venues like community centers, places of worship, burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoriums can remain open to hold these events. You should ensure that social distancing measures are observed at all times and guidance on the use of face coverings is also followed.

You are advised not to take part in rituals or practices that bring you into close contact with the deceased. You may struggle not just with the bereavement, but with the impact of social distancing measures and the fact that you may not be able to say goodbye in the way that you would have wanted.

People should avoid unnecessary contact and stick to lockdown rules, England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Witty has said. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all introduced lockdowns.

In Fermanagh, Tom Best last saw his wife, Anne, as she was taken in an ambulance from their Berlin home. She was buried in St Finnish's cemetery as a handful of mourners watched on from a distance and the parish priest said prayers and the undertaker stood by.

A single, white rose was placed on the coffin by a gravedigger in gloves. His heart was in the graveyard, but he paced up and down their garden, clutching his wife's photograph.

Image captionCommunities are trying to find new ways of expressing their respect to the dead In the Catholic diocese of Clog her that straddles the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, the guidelines have been tightened.

Priests will not attend wakes and bereaved families will be supported over the phone. Rev Dr Frank Seller, a former Presbyterian moderator and minister of Bloomfield Presbyterian Church in Belfast has not dealt with a case involving Covid-19 yet, but he knows it is coming.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence, Fr Brian D'Army talked about his struggle to support people. “Who would have thought that, in a great crisis, somebody can't go to a church to pray,” he asked.

He took over the reins from his father who worked through the dark days of the Troubles when people died suddenly, in bombings and shootings. For those whose relatives die with coronavirus in this pandemic, there can be no comfort in a wake or church ceremonies.

“We understand that people cannot carry the coffin because traditionally they put their arms around each other, and they cannot do that because of social distancing. Most of all, it feels like people are being robbed of what's most precious when they are at their lowest point.

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