Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland's route map - what you can and cannot do

Information about easing the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland's route map - what you can and cannot do
Gatherings and occasions

Gatherings and occasions


When will funerals be allowed with increased attendance (taking into account physical distancing)?

Physical distancing rules around funerals in Phase 2 remain the same. As difficult as this decision is, it’s because of the heightened potential risk of virus spread, especially where people and households come together to console those who are mourning.

We ask that you still only attend a funeral of members of your household, a close family member or, in the event that no family or household member is attending the funeral, of a close friend. To help keep people safe, the number of people should be kept to the minimum possible.

It is the responsibility of cremation and burial authorities to make sure conduct of a funeral is in line with wider public health advice. We understand that some of these necessary measures can be distressing and so they will continue to be reviewed as we progress through the route map and easing of restrictions. We hope to see a relaxation of the restrictions to attendance at funerals beyond ‘close family’ in Phase 3. 

Who can attend a funeral?

When considering who should attend a funeral, the requirement to keep funeral service attendees to the minimum number of people possible should be taken into account.

Under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (‘the regulations’) you can attend a funeral if you are:

  • a household member of the person who has died
  • a close family member of the person who has died
  • If no household or close family members are attending the funeral, then you can attend if you are a friend of the person who has died.

The regulations do not define who is considered ‘close family’. This is because the circumstances for each person who has died and their loved ones will be different.

For those organising a funeral, we are, however, requesting that in person attendance at a funeral service is kept to the minimum number of people possible.

How many people can attend a funeral?

There is no Scotland-wide maximum number of people allowed to attend a funeral service. Each crematorium, burial ground or place of worship will advise you on the maximum number of attendees that they can safely accommodate at the service.

You should speak to your funeral director, local crematorium, burial ground or place of worship directly, to establish what the arrangements or restrictions are and how they will be managed on the day of the service.

Who should NOT attend a funeral?

If you are symptomatic (showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection) or have tested positive for COVID-19 you must not attend a funeral service in person, during the period you are required to self-isolate.

If you do not have symptoms, have not tested positive for COVID-19 but are self-isolating due to another member of your household either showing symptoms of COVID-19 or having tested positive for COVID-19, you must seriously consider not attending a funeral service in person. You should instead continue to follow household self-isolation advice

If you are not symptomatic or have a confirmed COVID-19 test result, but are self-isolating as a result of other contact (identified through contact tracing), you must seriously consider not attending a funeral service in person. You should instead follow all contact tracing and self-isolation advice provided to you.

If you are part of the higher-risk group or the extremely high-risk group you must seriously consider your attendance at a funeral in line with all important public health advice provided and applicable to you.

If you fall within any of these categories, you may wish to consider, where possible, attending the funeral service electronically e.g. via live-streaming or to view a recording of the service.

How far can I travel to attend a funeral in Scotland?

There is no maximum or minimum distance for funeral service attendance.

The Regulations state that it is a ‘reasonable excuse’ to travel to attend a funeral, if the person travelling is a close family member of the person who has died or (if no household members or close family are attending) a friend of the person who has died.

Electronic attendance (live streaming or via a recording) is often an option and should be considered by all those wishing to attend a funeral service in person. You can speak to your funeral director or with the burial authority, cremation authority or place of worship directly, to confirm if viewing the service electronically is possible.

If travelling in Scotland, you must always take into account other restrictions and guidance currently in place. Read Travelling in Scotland guidance on the Transport Scotland website.

Where available and if needed, you should consider booking accommodation for any overnight stay, which continues to be permitted in order to attend a funeral.

Can I delay a funeral until after the pandemic restrictions have ended?

You should not delay a funeral in the hope that the restrictions will end soon and more people will be able to attend the funeral. It is not known when the restrictions will end and it is possible it could be many weeks until that happens.

It is also highly likely that physical distancing requirements will remain in place for some time. This means that crematoriums, burial grounds and places of worship will still need to limit and manage the numbers of people who can attend funeral services.

Can I travel to another part of the UK to attend a funeral service?

If travelling to other parts of the UK, you should check the rules and guidance in place for that country.

Similar regulations are in place across all UK nations, which means that travel to attend a funeral service continues to be considered a reasonable excuse for travel. However, please check country specific regulations for the country you’re travelling to or through in advance of travel.

Can I travel from abroad to attend a funeral in Scotland?

Consular assistance and foreign policy, including foreign travel, is reserved to the UK Government and managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

If you are considering travel from abroad to attend a funeral service in Scotland, you should review relevant FCO advice before doing so. 

You should consider any travel very carefully, understanding that at a funeral service (as with any gathering at this time) there will continue to be a risk of transmission of COVID-19.

It is important that if you decide to travel to Scotland from abroad you strictly adhere to all public health requirements, such as physical distancing, while in Scotland. This includes complying with restrictions on movement and self isolation in place for travellers entering the UK.

How do I get support for funeral costs?

You can check if you are eligible for a Funeral Support Payment. You can also check if you are eligible for other bereavement support payments.

How do I access bereavement support?

The website sets out a number of resources and organisations that are there to help and support you at times of grief and bereavement.

You find practical tips for your help with your wider wellbeing at Clear Your Head.

Marriages and civil partnerships

When will marriages and civil partnerships be allowed to begin again?

At present, wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, and those who participate in them, are restricted by the current health protection regulations. This includes the restrictions on gatherings in a public place.

From 29 June, marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations which consist of an outdoor public gathering where all the participants, including the couple and the witnesses, come from no more than three households will be possible up to as maximum of eight. The celebrant or registrar will not count as one of the households. If necessary the services of an interpreter can also be used by the celebrant or registrar. 

Allowing marriages and civil partnerships more generally in public places, including within places of worship, is not yet supported by scientific and medical evidence. The remaining restrictions in place remain proportionate. As soon as it is supported by the evidence, further easing of restrictions will come in Phases 3 and 4.

Places of worship

When will places of worship be allowed to reopen and how will physical distancing be implemented?

Places of worship will be able to reopen for individual prayer or contemplation from 22 June under physical distancing rules and hygiene safeguards. This means that individuals can go to their place of worship on their own or in their household group to pray or take part in religious or spiritual contemplation. 

The practicalities of implementing physical distancing measures will depend on the particular circumstances of each place of worship and on the specific practices of the relevant faith group. We are continuing to engage closely with our faith communities on this issue and have published guidance to support them to re-open for individual prayer and contemplation as soon as is safely possible.

We anticipate that further restrictions can be lifted in Phase 3, when places of worship can open to extended groups subject to physical distancing and hygiene safeguards, and in Phase 4.

Outdoor mass gatherings

Will mass gatherings be permitted to take place outside? 

From 19 June 2020, three households can now meet up with one another outdoors. This can be in one household’s garden but physical distancing is still required. Three households can meet within the same day and up to a recommended maximum of eight people in the overall group.

We expect public mass gatherings will not be permitted for some time – they are included in Phase 4 and will be subject to public health advice at that time.

First published: 11 Jul 2020 Last updated: 11 Jul 2020 -