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  • Writer's pictureJohn Gurd

Latest guidance on funeral services

How many people can attend a funeral service?

In England, the maximum number is 30 (subject to the venue’s COVID-secure limit); in Scotland it’s 50 (subject to the venue’s COVID-secure limit); in Northern Ireland and Wales it is subject to the venue’s COVID-secure limit.

From 17 May 2021, the Government has stated its intention to remove the legal maximum cap of 30 on funeral service attendance in England. Instead the maximum attendance will be defined by the venue’s COVID-secure limit.

Associated events

In England, 15 people (not including staff) can attend an ashes scattering, ritual washing or other linked event or custom associated with a funeral at a COVID-secure hospitality venue, or other venue permitted to open for this purpose – such as a community centre or place of worship. The rule of six/two households will still apply to gatherings in private gardens and there should be no household mixing indoors. This guidance will apply until the lifting of lockdown reaches Step 3.

In Scotland, wakes are prohibited on the mainland and the limit for other ceremonial events is 50, in a COVID-secure setting.

In Northern Ireland, funeral wakes and receptions are not permitted, but the body can be taken home, subject to COVID-secure guidance and household limits.

In Wales, outdoor wakes are permitted for up to 30 people (not including children aged under 11 or carers) and indoor wakes are permitted for up to 15 people (not including children aged under 11 or carers).

Arranging the funeral

Managing a funeral – guidance

  • England: click here for updated full guidance published on 7 April 2021

  • Northern Ireland: Click here for guidance published on 22 December 2020

  • Wales: Click here for guidance published on 23 December 2020

  • Scotland: Click here for guidance published on 5 January 2021

For guidance on managing deceased and visiting bereaved families at home to arrange the funeral, please click here.

On the day of the funeral

Many firms in England, Wales and Scotland have safely re-introduced limousines for bereaved clients, following guidance to ensure they can be used safely, including the use of perspex screens, limiting the number travelling to ensure they can sit as far back as possible and additional cleaning. In Northern Ireland, limousines are not permitted for use. Face coverings must be worn by passengers in funeral vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales and are advised for drivers.

Face coverings are required during all indoor funeral services (including places of worship, burial ground chapels and crematoria)

Webcasting/live streaming of the funeral service (using professional or personal devices) is possible at most crematoria, or may be something you wish to arrange for your clients – thereby enabling other mourners to still participate without putting themselves and others at risk of harm.

Please don’t publicly advertise the funeral details to reduce the risk of other, well-meaning mourners arriving unexpectedly. This is not permitted under current social distancing laws and they may be turned away at the door, which could be distressing for them and the bereaved family. It will also place your employees at unnecessary risk of harm.

Check with the service venue as there may be other changes too.

All charitable collections should be done online.

Further information



Northern Ireland



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