There has been some misleading information broadcast and published regarding funerals following the Prime Minister’s address on Monday, 23rd March 2020. After a meeting with our Trade Association and the Cabinet Office I am now able to advise on the restrictions regarding funerals.
All churches are now closed to funerals, without exception. Ministers, Priests and Celebrants can conduct services either at graveside or at the crematorium.
In all cases the family visits by the Minster, Priest or Celebrant prior to the service will be replaced by a telephone or video call.
All crematoria in Northampton continue to operate subject to restrictions. General restrictions include the removal of all hymn books. The closure of waiting rooms. Those attending a service are required to remain in their cars until the cortege arrives. Mourners will not be allowed to touch the coffin as they leave the chapel, the curtains will be closed, there will be no option to leave them open. It is suggested that a final goodbye gesture should be a wave or to blow a kiss. The witness charge into the cremator will be limited to the immediate next of kin.
Most crematoria have the facility to webcast a service, however we are advised that this service is in high demand and in some circumstances may not be possible.
Social Distancing guidelines must be adhered to. The Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG)* are aware of the important and central role of the funeral to the grieving process for many families.
DMAG recommends that funeral services limit the those attending to members of the immediate family who are not in any of the high-risk categories and are not self-isolating. The immediate family being:
- Children (and partners)
This must be done sensitively and consider individual circumstances. For example, if the deceased person had few, if any immediate, relatives but close a friend wished to attend the service, that would be reasonable – or in the case of the death of a grandparent, attendance by the grandchildren would be appropriate.
In addition to this our local crematoriums have their own rules:
The Counties Crematorium, Northampton. Up to 10 mourners in total. Social distancing must be respected, mourners must, sit apart in the chapel and should avoid crowding together in the flower courtyard and grounds following a service. The release of cremated remains (ashes) is suspended.
Nene Valley Crematorium, Wellingborough. Up to 18 mourners in the chapel with the option to have an additional 12 watching from outside. Social distancing must be respected, and mourners must sit apart from each other in the chapel and stand apart from each other when viewing from outside. Following the service crowding in the flower courtyard and grounds should be avoided.
Warren Hill Crematorium, Kettering. Up to 18 mourners in total. Social distancing must be respected. To aid this in both chapels seating has been removed and rearranged to conform to the social distancing regulations. The seating layout is not able to be adapted. Please do not move the seats or ask for them to be moved. As with both previous crematoria, please do not crowd in the flower courtyard or grounds following the service.
Burials in cemeteries or churchyards as not exempt from social distancing rules and the same definitions given by the DMAG apply.
The cemeteries in Northampton have some restrictions. The chapels in Kingsthorpe and Towcester Road cemeteries are closed. The option to select a grave or pre-purchase a grave has been withdrawn. New graves will be allocated by the cemetery superintendent. Families are asked not to carry and lower the coffin themselves or back fill the grave.
We have, after a great deal of though and with advice put the following safeguards into action:
- Where possible all funerals will be arranged over the telephone with any paperwork requiring a signature sent out to you. If you find this difficult you can call into our offices to make the arrangements, however we will restrict the number of those attending to no more than 2
- All groups visiting the offices to make general enquiries or to visit the chapels will limited to 2.
- Those visiting our offices will be asked to sanatise their hands on arrival and before they leave.
- Limousines will no longer be available for use.
- All public areas will be sanatised on a regular basis.
- It is our aim to reduce face-to-face contact as much as possible.
- Donation boxes/plates will be removed. Donations can still be made through the Hollowells website – hollowells.co.uk
- Since flowers wholesalers have closed our florist has a limited stock. This may mean that some of our existing flower orders may be altered. It also means that we may be unable to honour any new flower orders.
- We are no longer able to hold receptions in our reception suite.
- You are discouraged from placing an obituary in the newspaper that gives details of the service. This could be viewed as an invitation and is counterproductive. We would be able to place a notice in the paper and on our own website for you announcing the death, giving details of flowers and charitable donations only.
- We are unable to arrange the reception of a coffin into a private address or any other place prior to a cremation or burial service.
- The bearing of the coffin by family members is temporarily suspended.
- Sadly, we won’t be shaking hands or giving out hugs!
We realise that this is a long list of restrictions (and it may get longer) and we are sorry, but it is necessary to help combat the spread of the virus.
We consider these measures necessary for your own wellbeing as well as our own. Please be assured the service provided by Hollowells will be of the same high standard that you would expect.
Looking to the future when the virus has gone, and we can return to everyday life we would be happy to hear from those of you who would like help in arranging a memorial service. Along with the churches, crematoria, cemeteries and celebrants of Northampton we would encourage you to think about this.
We can get through this together by being sensible and following the advice given from Public Health England and the NHS.
If you are worried about the impact of Coronavirus and our service, please contact us.
Please do keep safe and follow the guidance given by government, it’s really important.
All at Hollowells.
* The Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG), which is regularly liaising with government on the sector’s response to COVID-19, comprises the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF); Association of Private Crematoria and Cemeteries (APCC), Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA); Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers’ Association (FFMA); Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM); The Cremation Society; and the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD).