Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for funeral directors

Published: 25 Nov 2020
Last updated: 21 Jul 2021 - see all updates

This guidance is for funeral directors to help manage their services during the current pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for funeral directors
Post-funeral gatherings/wakes in Scotland

Post-funeral gatherings and wakes in Scotland.

This section sets out what those responsible for post-funeral gatherings should do to comply with regulations and guidance.

Venue managers and those responsible for compliance should familiarise themselves with their legal obligations in terms of the statutory guidance and the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (as amended).

Further guidance that may be useful can be found in the general guidance for customers of retail and hospitality.

Risk assessment

All businesses must undertake a risk assessment to determine what adjustments are required to operate safely. The venue manager is responsible for ensuring these are completed. More detailed information, including a template can be found in the assessing risk chapter of the hospitality guidance.


Physical distancing and good hand hygiene remain the most effective measures in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. 

One metre physical distancing applies to hospitality premises where a post funeral gathering is being hosted

Organised occasions or gatherings to mark a significant event like a post-funeral gathering will understandably involve people who know one another well, and who may wish to greet or console one another.  It is important, that requirements for physical distancing, hygiene and other mitigation measures are carefully followed both by the venues hosting such occasions and those attending the events, to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. 

Numbers that can attend

The numbers set out below can attend only if the venue can hold that many people with strict physical distancing measures in place. In some venues fewer people will be able to attend. 

  • Level 0 - no more than 200 people should attend.
  • Level 1 - no more than 100 people should attend.
  • Level 2 - no more than 50 people should attend.
  • Level 3 - no more than 50 people should attend.
  • Level 4 - Post -funeral gatherings/wakes are not permitted in level 4. 

Children of all ages are counted in the maximum number.

However, those present at post-funeral gatherings for the purpose of work are not included in the maximum number. This would include, for example, anyone hired by the family, any venue staff, or any third party suppliers (including carers or those who must accompany an individual such as a prison escort).

If anyone working subsequently joins the funeral party as one of the mourners, they should then count towards the total number.

Restrictions on capacity

Post-funeral gatherings with up to 200 people can only take place in regulated venues (e.g. hospitality venues). The number of people able to attend a post-funeral gathering is limited by the cap set for each protection level and physical distancing requirements.

We strongly encourage you to contact venues in advance to check the capacity, with physical distancing, of the venue where the post-funeral gathering or wake will be held.

Please refer to guidance on how to calculate physical distancing based capacity in public settings.

Outwith regulated venues, any gathering for a post-funeral gathering must adhere to the general rules on indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Venues must follow all restrictions on capacity in regulations and comply with associated guidance.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 provide that for the purposes of minimising the risk of the incidence and spread of coronavirus on the premises, a person responsible for a place of worship, carrying on a business or providing a service must take a number of measures where reasonably practicable.

These include ensuring that physical distancing takes place and ensuring that people are admitted to its premises in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain the required distance.

The number of guests permitted to attend the post-funeral gathering/wake should follow any supporting guidance, in force at the time of the event.

It is important to reiterate that the numerical limits are contingent upon the venue having sufficient capacity, with physical distancing, to safely accommodate that number of people. We have produced guidance on how to calculate capacity limits.

If necessary, update link with link to updated PD guidance as noted above

Closing time

Closing times for post-funeral gatherings are set within the relevant hospitality guidance. For ease, the following closing times are applicable at each protection level:

  • Level 0 - the closing time required in all indoor hospitality settings is 24:00 hours. This applies to post-funeral gatherings.

  • Level 1 - the closing time required in all indoor hospitality settings is 23:00 hours. This applies to post-funeral gatherings.
  • Level 2 - the closing time required in all indoor hospitality settings is 22:30 hours. This applies to post-funeral gatherings.
  • Level 3 - the closing time is 22:00 hours. The event must close and guests must leave the venue no later than this time. This is covered by an exception in the Regulations to allow for a later closing time than that which is imposed on indoor hospitality more generally. As this is a concession, it is important that Venue Managers observe this strictly.
  • Level 4 - post-funeral gatherings are not permitted in level 4.

Serving food and drink


Food must be via table service as table service is mandatory in hospitality settings. There should be no buffet service.

Salt/pepper, water jugs, food service equipment and condiments should not be shared between different tables.

Food service must adhere to the following guidance:


Alcohol can be provided at a permitted post-funeral gathering (in levels 0, 1, 2 and 3).

Alcohol must be provided in accordance with licensing requirements and care must be taken to ensure that physical distancing requirements are maintained.

Venues must put in place the same mitigating measures as they would in other indoor hospitality settings. For example, guests should not approach the bar and protective screens should be used. 

In protection level 3, alcohol is not permitted in other indoor hospitality settings. There is an exception in the regulations which permits the sale of alcohol at a post-funeral gathering.

Test and Protect

This is mandatory for hospitality businesses. Customer detail collection guidance has been published and must be followed.

If the post-funeral gathering is hosted in a non-mandatory business area, or private dwelling/garden, adhering to the rules on indoor and outdoor socialising, the Scottish Government strongly advises those attending to provide contact details for Test and Protect purposes.  Doing so is very important to help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Music and speeches

Background music is allowed at post-funeral gatherings, in line with hospitality guidance on background music.

Attendees should refrain from raising voices, shouting or singing, where possible, for more information on music and sound requirements please see the hospitality guidance.


Any speeches should be made outdoors where possible, to reduce the risk of droplet and aerosol transmission.

If this is not possible and a speech is taking place indoors:

  • the space should be well-ventilated, for example by having windows open
  • the speech should be amplified to prevent the need for raised voices, for example by using a microphone (clean microphones regularly and between use)

Businesses must take measures to ensure they minimise the risk of the virus being spread. One way entrance and exit systems should be put in place where possible supported by clear signage.

Arrangements should be put in place to limit the necessity of guests to touch door handles. This should be via automatic doors or doors being held open where fire regulations allow this.


There should be no queuing inside premises, such as at bars, and systems should be in place to ensure this does not happen. 

This may include barriers to prevent access to and congregation of guests at bars. It is important that physical distancing is maintained wherever possible.

Improved ventilation

Adequate and good quality ventilation should be standard in indoor commercial spaces – businesses should consider current arrangements and whether additional measures are required to make improvements. HSE guidance on this issue may be helpful.

Face coverings

It is mandatory for staff to wear face coverings in accordance with hospitality statutory guidance.

Guests must wear face coverings other than when eating and drinking. The use of face coverings is mandatory in indoor premises. This includes in those areas of a hotel/venue (such as the hotel reception, toilets or other corridor/circulation spaces) that are not used for eating and drinking.

Exemptions for vulnerable groups/individuals apply.

The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to other precautions including physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene. We have published guidance on the use of face coverings.


When planning seating arrangements for a reception in a public space or venue, you should follow the rules for indoor hospitality settings for the relevant COVID-19 protection level.

Find out the COVID-19 level and indoor hospitality rules for an area using the postcode checker.

For example, in a Level 1 area there should be a maximum of 8 people from 3 households at a table, with physical distancing between each household.

Hand sanitiser should be provided throughout the premises.

Guests must:

  • wear a face covering indoors (unless exempt), apart than when sitting down to eat and drink

Guests should:

  • be seated as quickly as possible
  • not mix with people at other tables
  • stay seated at all times apart from when arriving/leaving or using toilet facilities

If possible, set waiting staff should serve the same tables to minimise increased contact with others.

Hand sanitation

Hand sanitiser should be provided throughout the premises. 

Hand sanitiser (preferably foot operated) should be provided where guests move from one area to another.


Toilet facilities present a significant risk as physical distancing is difficult and there are shared touch points.

Venues must include a risk mitigation plan within their risk assessment offering assurances as to how toilet facilities can be used safely.

Toilet facilities must be managed carefully and it is recognised that this may require at times the need for customers to queue in a physically distanced and orderly manner to allow facilities to be used safely. Space should be identified for this away from seated areas that can ensure physical distancing and that do not encroach on passage ways. Customers should be wearing face coverings when not seated.

Measures must be implemented to support safe use. You may find it helpful to read: safe use of toilet facilities 


The venue manager must ensure that the areas used by the event are thoroughly cleaned before the next event takes place.  

All cleaning should be carried out in accordance with Health Protection Scotland's guidance for non-healthcare settings.  

This may mean enhancement of the cleaning regime normally used at venues.

Venues should take steps to ensure that there is frequent cleaning of touch points that are frequently used. This is an effective measure in preventing infection.

Private dwellings

A post-funeral gathering at a private dwelling can take place but must comply with the rules applying in the appropriate protection level for meeting others indoors or outdoors.


You can find out more in the workplace training and compliance chapter of the hospitality guidance.

First published: 25 Nov 2020 Last updated: 21 Jul 2021 -