Rest Assured Funeral Plans responds to pleas asking ‘When will Covid restrictions on funerals end?’ and explains that mourners must wait to the end of PM Johnson’s roadmap before funerals can return to normal.
Boris Johnson has chosen to maintain coronavirus restrictions on funerals, despite expectations he would waive them on May 17th.
The Prime Minister’s decision means that the number of mourners able to attend the send-off of a loved one will stay capped at 30 people until the end of his exit strategy roadmap for tackling Covid-19.
The funeral industry had expected ministers to remove the 30-person legal limit a month earlier than planned, after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that people had made “huge sacrifices” especially around “deeply painful” restrictions on funerals.
Speaking at the beginning of May, Jenrick said he planned to liaise with faith leaders and funeral home managers to introduce new arrangements to continue to keep people safe once the limit has been lifted.
The assurances prompted Deborah Smith, from the National Association of Funeral Directors, to say she was “very pleased” at the planned change.
She explained: “It does mean that those larger venues can now start welcoming more mourners.
“It just gives that little bit of choice for families who do have lots of family members and lots of close friends, that they can choose a venue that is a little bit larger.”
However, Prime Minister Johnson scuppered any plans of a return to normality at funerals with an all-encompassing government announcement.
It read: “Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals,” clarifying that from June 21, it hopes to “remove all legal limits on social contact” – which should mean funerals can operate as normal from then on.
The changes on May 17 do mean that the limit of 15 people attending wakes will double.
However, they fly in the face of calls “to end cruel Covid rules for funerals” which became heightened when images of the Queen grieving alone at Prince Philip’s funeral broke the nation’s heart.
Rest Assured’ chief executive Tom Loughran led the funerals industry’s calls for more compassionate regulations on funerals when he told The Sun newspaper: “It is time to end the Covid restrictions on funerals.
“There is no question that they compound the pain suffered by those who lose loved ones.
“It has been heart-breaking to witness the anguish of so many families faced with bidding final farewell to someone dear, without the support needed most during moments of huge loss.
“Mourners consoling each other is central to funerals and the grieving process. It is an important part of the healing process after loss.
“Suffering is only deepened without it, at an already painful time.
“This was seen with stark clarity as the Queen was literally inconsolable at her husband’s funeral.
“Now that so many other aspects of life allow us to come together in greater numbers than 30 — in gyms, in shops, in beer gardens — it seems wholly unfair that mourners should still be subjected to restrictions that deepen their sorrow and suffering.”
Rest Assured Funeral Plans was joined by television presented Kirstie Allsopp in calling for an urgent review of restriction on funerals.
She said: “I hope the sight of the Queen sitting alone brought home to everyone watching that the time has come to allow mourning people to judge their own risk, given the success of the vaccination rollout.
“Every week, approximately 10,000 people die in the UK.
“Our Government thinks that despite many being vaccinated, and rapid tests being available, their family and friends should not comfort each other with a hug.
“I do not currently have a funeral to plan, thank God, nor do I have family in hospital or a care home, but you never know when it could happen to you.”
Good Morning Britain’s presenter Adil Ray also expressed dismay.
He added: “In honour of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Covid funeral rules must be changed, surely?
“Close grieving family members must be allowed to sit next to each other if they’ve had the vaccine or been tested.”
The Prime Minister’s decision to keep a cap on mourner numbers at funerals will distress thousands of families who face organising funerals for loved ones before restrictions are finally lifted.
However, with the health and safety of the English nation in his hands, their sacrifice will ultimately lead to him restoring more familiar funeral arrangements for the rest of us who live here. Our thoughts are with them.