Can I Still Hold a Funeral for a Family Member Even With the State and Federal Social Distancing Guidelines and Stay-at-Home Orders?
Current social distancing guidelines issued by the Federal government, and in effect until April 30th, restrict public gatherings (including funerals) to 10 people or less. In other words, funerals should be limited to no more than 10 people until April 30th and until the issuance of new Federal guidelines. After April 30th, public gatherings will be restricted to 50 people or less until May 10th. However, it is important to always check with your local ordinances, as state and local restrictions may differ by state or even county. New Jersey, for example, has cancelled all funerals, whereas Connecticut has limited them to no more than 5 people.
Can I Hold a Funeral for Someone Who Died of COVID-19?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that it is safe to hold a funeral for someone who died of COVID-19 or be in the general proximity of the body. However, the CDC recommends not touching the body of someone who has died of COVID-19, at least before the body is prepared for viewing. After the body is prepared, it is generally safe to touch the body.
What Are the Alternatives to a Traditional Funeral?
The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has advised that live streaming of funerals can be a viable alternative to a traditional funeral gathering. This way, more family members and friends are able to share in the event without physically being present and increasing the risk for everyone around. There is a recorded NFDA webinar explaining the process of livestreaming a funeral that is available via this link: https://www.nfda.org/covid-19/practical-guidance-webinars for anyone who would consider this alternative.
The NFDA also recommends that if an in-person funeral gathering is to be held, to offer alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contains at least 60% alcohol to guests and employees and/or placing it by the register book to encourage guests to use it. Limiting handshakes and hugs is strongly advised as well.