Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for funeral services

Published: 10 Sep 2020
Last updated: 10 Sep 2020 - see all updates

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for funeral services
Funeral service

Funeral service

Those attending a funeral, or advising others on attendance, should review and follow the below:

  • in person attendance at funeral services should be limited to 20 people. This is not including the funeral director, venue staff or celebrant. Numbers of attendees will also be based on the size of the venue and its ability to maintain strict physical distancing measures, so the number able to attend may be less than this
  • we would discourage people who are not counted in the cap of 20 people from going to the funeral service and gathering outside the crematorium, funeral director service room, or in the burial ground
  • all attendees must maintain at least a 2 metre distance from each other at all times (except where they are from the same household, or a carer and the person is assisted by the carer)
  • if available, those who are unable or cannot attend in person should consider joining remotely via electronic means or viewing a recording of the service
  • all attendees should maintain good hand and cough hygiene, both before and after attending a service e.g. such as regular hand washing, disposing of tissues etc, safely, and ideally taking home. References to a household include an extended household
  • if a person is symptomatic (showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection) or has tested positive with COVID-19 they must not attend a funeral service in person, during the period they are required to self-isolate
  • if a person is not symptomatic or a confirmed COVID-19 case, but is self-isolating due to another member of their household either showing symptoms of COVID-19 or their household member has tested positive with COVID-19, that person must seriously consider not attending a funeral service in person. They should instead continue to follow household self-isolation advice
  • if person is not symptomatic or a confirmed COVID-19 case, but is self-isolating as a result of other contact (identified through contact tracing), they must seriously consider not attending a funeral service in person. This person should instead follow all contact tracing and self-isolation advice provided to them

Attendance of people who are in the higher risk group or extremely high risk group

If you are considered part of the higher risk or extremely high risk group and wish to attend a funeral service in person, you must seriously consider this in line with important public health advice applicable to you and available on NHS Inform.

You should always, in the first instance, consider attendance via electronic means or view a recording of the service.

Face coverings

Everyone attending an indoor funeral service is required by law to wear a face covering.  This includes funeral services in crematoriums, funeral directors’ premises and places of worship.

There are some exceptions to wearing a face covering at funeral services. The person leading the funeral service, or providing the eulogy, can remove a face covering, but must instead remain at least 2 metres away from others or have a protective screen between themselves and others.

If it is not possible for the person leading the funeral service or providing the eulogy to remain at least 2 metres away from others or to use a protective screen, they must wear a face covering.

Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene are the most important and effective measures we can all take to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative or substitute to any of these other critical precautions.

However, there is evidence that face coverings can add additional protection, especially in crowded and less well ventilated spaces, and where 2m physical distancing is not possible. In indoor places, where physical distancing is difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of the same household, they are expected to wear a face covering.

We recognise that for some wearing a face covering while grieving may be uncomfortable. It is acceptable for someone to remove their face covering temporarily to blow their nose or wipe their eyes. In these circumstances it is important to maintain 2 metres distance from others.

More information on when a face covering must be worn and exemptions and reasonable excuses can be found here.

Further public health information

Those attending a funeral service will be asked to provide contact details for Test and Protect purposes. Doing so is very important to help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

See wider Scottish Government phase 3 guidance on staying safe and protecting others when out of your home.

NHS Inform explains more about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how the virus can spread.

Further information

Information on what to do when someone dies, including accessing bereavement services or support, or support with funeral costs, is available. What do after a death in Scotland.

First published: 10 Sep 2020 Last updated: 10 Sep 2020 -