HomeNewsCOVID-19 restrictions impact funerals

COVID-19 restrictions impact funerals

cemeteries and funerals
Bundaberg General Cemetery.

Cemeteries and funeral services have undergone major changes since the addition of COVID-19 restrictions, with live streaming now common.

Bundaberg Regional Council's Regional Supervisor Cemeteries Operations Nicholas Burfield said the changes had resulted in fewer people attending funerals, with strict guidelines enforcing family and friends to stay home.

“As per government regulations, only 10 people are permitted to attend any form of service be it ashes placements in various locations around the cemetery or burials,” Nicholas said.

“Prior to any service taking place, we set out chairs ensuring that the social distancing is adhered too.

“Because of this, we are seeing a rise in recorded funerals and live streaming so that other people can pay their respects.”

Nicholas said while the new regulations clearly had an effect on friends and relatives of lost loved ones, Council was doing everything possible to make each ceremony respectful and special.

“It’s really impacted the families as not all family or friends are allowed to attend,” he said.

“As this is already an emotional time, trying to select who can attend and who can’t adds another level of stress.

“We completely understand the emotional turmoil this can bring and we are extremely sympathetic to those who are effected by the new protocols.”

Nicholas said while times were tough, it was still essential to follow current COVID-19 protocols to ensure the health and safety of others.

“It’s important to follow the protocol as it reduces the possibility of further spreading and enables the world to get back to normality sooner,” he said

cemeteries and funerals
Generation Funerals provides live streaming of services.

Generation Funerals provides options

Funeral services have been greatly impacted by the current restrictions, with Generation Funerals Operations Manager Penny Levi stating the business was doing everything it could for families during this time.

“The biggest restriction currently in place is the four-metre square requirement and the no-physical contact,” she said.

“We also have increased our regular sanitising and cleaning regime and our team are hand washing in and out of the office and regularly using hand sanitiser.”

Penny said new Coronavirus laws had also changed the relationship with families and how her team was able to communicate.

“We are only able to do funeral arrangements with one person from the family, meaning two people in total,” she said.

“There are many ways to gather the information needed to complete a funeral and the way to do that safely to minimise exposure time to our families and to our team but also we need to take into consideration the families preferences and abilities.

“What’s new with COVID-19 is that we are providing options of doing a live video meeting with family members who want to have input into the service.”

Penny said as of today in Queensland, a maximum of 10 mourners plus three funeral staff were allowed at graveside burials, home, church and chapel services.

She said Generation Funerals was providing other options to make sure all loved ones had an opportunity to say their farewells.

“We have always had the capabilities to live stream a service. Our set-up is portable so as long as we have internet access we can live stream from all venues,” Penny said.

“We can also have the service recorded and we can provide a copy via USB or via a link to download.

“For graveside burials we have the ability to stream via a short distance FM radio transmitter so others can sit in their cars and listen to the service.”

Penny said while the restrictions were unpleasant in an already sombre time for mourners, most families had been accepting of the new protocols.

“We are trying our best in the current circumstances to meet the needs of the community,” she said.

“We also are hurting and carrying a lot of pain that we are not able to perform and provide to the best of our abilities.

“We are all about helping people to heal and while we can't provide a comforting hug and a shoulder to lean on at the moment, we can still provide a supporting smile and words of comfort.”

How funeral services operate during COVID-19:

• 10 mourners plus three funeral staff (including minister or celebrant)
• Church, chapel, graveside or private property are possible
• Viewings and vigils are possible
• Burials and cremations are possible
• Live streaming or recording of services
• Messages of condolences, flowers and gifts may still be sent.
• Social distancing rules apply in all cases
• No catering after funeral services

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