Funeral service for person with confirmed COVID-19 infection

The funeral director should avoid direct contact with any family member who has been identified by Public Health as being a close contact. They can establish this by telephone before meeting individual family members.

In light of current restriction on mass gatherings and the requirement for physical distancing, public reposals and gatherings at funeral homes should be discouraged.

The funeral should be private and limited to a maximum of ten people as advised by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).   

Only the following should attend:

  • members of the person’s household
  • close family members
  • close friends if the deceased has no household or family members

Mourners should follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering.

Social distancing of at least 2 metres between identified groups should be recommended for everyone.

Physical interactions including shaking hands and hugging should be avoided.

Arrangements should not be advertised in papers and online (The funeral notice can be placed but the arrangements should not appear).

Families can advise relatives privately of the funeral arrangements. See below for suggested wording:

A private funeral will take place due to government advice regarding public gatherings. Those who would have liked to attend the funeral, but due to current restrictions cannot, please leave a personal message in the section below 'Condolences'.

In the papers, a similar message can be written with reference to www.rip.ie or your company website to offer the family condolences.

It is a sensible measure to suspend the use of condolence books and recommend people issue condolences through social media, online websites such as rip.ie, text or by letter.

The family should be advised that they may have a Memorial Service at a later date.

Where possible, close contacts and relatives of the deceased should use their own transport for attendance at the funeral.

Cremation & Burial

The option of cremation is at the discretion of the family but is not required for the purposes of infection prevention and control.

Removal of Permanent Pacemakers prior to cremation is not considered an aerosol generating procedure (as long as no high-speed devices are used).

Burial of bodies in shrouds is permitted, those handling the deceased should perform hand hygiene afterwards.

Environmental Hygiene in a Funeral Home

We know that viruses similar to COVID-19 are transferred to and by people’s hands. Therefore, regular hand hygiene and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces will help to reduce the risk of infection.

In areas open to the public, routine cleaning of premises is sufficient but particular attention should be given to frequently touched surfaces including toilets, door handles/panels on doors, telephones and chairs.

Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) do not need to be specially cleaned.

Extract from: National Interim Guidelines for Funeral Directors on Managing Infection Risks when handling deceased individuals with confirmed COVID-19

Last updated: 14 April 2020