Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for funeral services

Published: 20 Apr 2020

This guidance explains what restrictions are currently in place for funeral services and wider public health guidance relevant for funeral services.

20 Apr 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for funeral services

Funeral services

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 provide that except to the extent that a person has a reasonable excuse, no person may leave the place where they are living. The Regulations set out that it is a reasonable excuse for the following people to attend a funeral service:

  • members of the deceased’s household
  • close family members of the deceased or
  • if no-one in the above two categories is attending, a friend of the deceased

Adherence to these regulations and wider NHS Inform advice on physical distancing is important to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst communities.

In line with wider public health advice, families are advised that in-person attendance of funeral services should be kept to the minimum number of people possible. 

Those attending a service should maintain at least a 2 metre distance from each other (except where they are from the same household, or a carer and the person is assisted by the carer).

In line with advice on physical distancing, funeral service attendees should maintain at least 2 metres distance from crematorium and burial ground staff. 

If a person is symptomatic (showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection) they should not attend a funeral service in person.

To help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) people must seriously consider not attending a funeral in person if:

•    they are part of a high risk group
•    if a member of their household is symptomatic

If a person, or a member of that person’s household, is symptomatic, they should follow NHS Inform stay at home advice.

Adherence to relevant regulations and NHS Inform advice will be made clear for all those attending any funeral service at a burial ground or crematorium. This will include the requirement for visitors to comply with all reasonable measures put in place to maintain a 2 metre distance from each other by the burial ground or crematorium (except where they are from the same household, or a carer and the person is assisted by the carer).

Delay to a funeral service

To ensure organisations managing funerals are able to cope with the increased number of deaths during the current pandemic, it is important that people do not delay funerals of their loved ones. 

The Scottish Government understands how difficult this will be for the families and friends of lost loved ones, however current guidance will be in place for the foreseeable future for public safety reasons and to ensure that funeral directors, crematoriums and burial grounds can continue to offer as normal a service as possible for all. 

Burial ground or crematorium requirements

It is the responsibility of cremation and burial authorities to implement policies regarding the required conduct of a funeral service in their crematorium or burial ground during the current pandemic, in line with the above requirements.

You should speak to your funeral director, or the burial ground or crematorium directly, to find out what local policies are in place and how this will be managed on the day of the service.


The Scottish Government acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for all bereaved families and all organisations working to provide funeral services during the current pandemic.