Covid 19

Covid 19

Covid 19

Funerals and COVID-19

Planning a funeral can be overwhelming, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are planning a funeral we hope this information can assist you to understand the current restrictions in place for funerals.

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Restrictions on attendance

Australia’s federal, state and territory governments have put restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 which includes the number of people who can attend a funeral. Find out more about current restrictions on funeral attendee numbers for each state and territory below. Updated 20 September 2021.

NSW

From 20 September 2021 restrictions will ease for those who live in LGAs of concern in Greater Sydney. A maximum of 10 people can attend a funeral or memorial service or gathering afterwards in Greater Sydney, including local government areas of concern. The 10-person maximum also applies to an outdoor funeral, memorial service or gathering afterwards. A funeral cannot occur at a place of residence. In addition to the 10 people attending the service there can also be people who are necessary for the preparation and conduct of the service. If you live in Greater Sydney, including local government areas of concern, you can leave home to attend a funeral or memorial service outside Greater Sydney, only if you are a spouse (including de facto) of the deceased, parent of the deceased, child of the deceased, or sibling of the deceased. Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors. Gathering restrictions no visitors in homes unless for care or for compassionate reasons and then only 1 person, outdoor gatherings not permitted. For parts of regional NSW currently deemed low risk up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated. People from regional NSW can only attend a funeral in Greater Sydney (including in areas of concern) if they are a spouse, de facto partner, parent, child or sibling of the deceased person. Masks must be worn indoors. Gathering restrictions 5 visitors in homes, up to 20 people can gather outdoors. Visit the NSW Government website for more information.

ACT

The ACT is in lockdown has been extended until 11:59pm Friday 15 October 2021. Indoor and outdoor funerals can take place with no more than 20 people. This limit excludes the people necessary to conduct the funeral. Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors. Gathering restrictions no visitors in homes unless approved under stay at home directions or for compassionate reasons and then only 2 permitted, outdoor gatherings not permitted, however one household (any size) or up to 5 people can gather outdoors for up to 2 hours for exercise or non-organised recreation. Visit the ACT Government website for more information.

QLD

From 1am Monday 13 September 2021 people who have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed to cross the Queensland border to or from the identified New South Wales border zone for essential work, including volunteer work, or other purposes, including going to school or receiving medical care. Funerals in all of Queensland can have up to one person per 2m2 or 200 people or 100% allocated seated and ticketed capacity (whichever is the greater) indoors. No restrictions on outdoor events, however you are encouraged to wear a mask when you are unable to physically distance. Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors if you cannot physically distance from people in South East Queensland. For the rest of Queensland everyone is encouraged to carry and wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible. Gathering restrictions 100 visitors in homes, no restrictions outdoors. Travel restrictions apply. Visit the QLD Government website for more information.

VIC

From 19 September the City of Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast, and Mitchell Shire will enter a seven-day lockdown, with restrictions the same as those in the City of Ballarat and metropolitan Melbourne, excluding the curfew. This means funerals will be capped at 10 people, plus those required to conduct the funeral. A place of worship may host a funeral, but attendance will be limited to 10 mourners plus those required to conduct it. You can attend a gravesite more than 5km from your home in Metro Melbourne for compassionate reasons provided that this is only with people who ordinarily reside with you or one other person. Catering is permitted at the conclusion of a funeral service, however restrictions apply depending on where the funeral is held; if the funeral is held at a place of worship (e.g. a church, synagogue, mosque or temple), food can be served before or after the funeral service. However, no food, drink, crockery, utensils, vessels or other equipment can be shared; for funerals held at a private residence, food and drink is allowed. Mourners serving as pall bearers are included in the 10 person limit. COVID-19 Check-in Marshals are now mandatory at all funerals and must ensure attendees check in. Wakes are not permitted. Masks indoors and outdoors except if at home. Gathering restrictions no visitors in homes, one person may meet another person not from their household for a picnic, a walk, or another outdoor activity. Additionally, up to five adults (plus dependents) from two households will be able to gather outdoors if all adults (18 years old or over) present have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In regional Victoria, except Ballarat funerals are allowed 20 people plus those required to conduct the service. Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap. All people in attendance must have a principal place of residence in Regional Victoria. Funerals held at a private residence may only have 5 attendees excluding those necessary to conduct the funeral, anyone who lives at the premises (or their intimate partner), and infants under 12 months. Residents from metropolitan Melbourne are allowed to attend funerals in regional Victoria, however if they do the funeral must comply with the funeral restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne and will therefore be limited to no more than 10 members of the public, excluding those necessary to conduct the funeral and any infants under 12 months. Masks indoors and outdoors except if at home. Gathering restrictions no visitors in homes, 10 for outdoor gatherings. Travel restrictions apply. Visit the VIC Government website for more information.

SA

From 9 September 2021 funerals can have up to 150 people if it's categorised as a private function. A private function is an invitation-only event that's held at a licensed premises and where there’s no access for people who aren’t invited. Up to 50 people can attend a wedding or a funeral that's categorised as a private activity. A private activity is held at a place other than one where a defined activity occurs — for example, a privately hired hall or a farm used for commercial purposes, but not a licensed premises or residential premises. The following restrictions apply for private-function and private -activity funerals - a density limit of 3 people per 4 square metres when seated (excluding staff) or a density limit of 1 person per 2 square metres when seated and standing (excluding staff). Masks required indoors and outdoors Gathering restrictions 20 visitors in homes including householders. Visit the SA Government website for more information.

NT

From 20 August 2021 lockdown has been lifted, however some restrictions remain in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19. These restrictions apply to Katherine as well as the Greater Darwin area. Masks must be worn when physical distancing is not possible Gathering restrictions 10 visitors in homes. Travel restrictions apply. Visit the NT Government website for more information.

WA

From 16 August 2021 there are no capacity limits to funerals. You should stay 1.5 metres from people you don’t live with, where possible. Masks not required. Gathering restrictions no capacity limits to gatherings or events. Travel restrictions apply. Visit the WA Government website for more information.

TAS

From 1 May 2021, Tasmania moved to allow 100 per cent of seated indoor and outdoor capacity for gatherings at cinemas, concert venues, theatres, places of worship, funeral homes, stadiums, and arenas. Those required to conduct the funeral do not count towards these numbers. Gathering restrictions the maximum number of people permitted is 1 person per 2 square metres, up to a limit of 250 people at an indoor venue and 1,000 people at an outdoor venue. Travel restrictions apply. Visit the TAS Government website for more information.

While we understand that it is difficult to limit the number of people who can attend the funeral of your loved one these measures have been introduced to protect your health and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. AFDA members are absolutely committed to providing a respectful and inclusive farewell despite the strict limitations on physical attendance.

For more information on these restrictions visit the Australian Government Department of Health website www.health.gov.au

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travel restrictions

Most states have now opened their borders for travel from ‘low risk’ areas. Travel from current ‘hot spots’ is restricted. We suggest you speak with your funeral director if you would like interstate guests to attend a funeral from a current ‘hot spot’ as exemptions may be granted for compassionate reasons.

Current ‘hot spots’ include:

  • NSW
  • ACT
  • Victoria

Involving everyone
in the funeral

A funeral plays an important part in the mourning process. People need time to mourn the loss of family and friends. A funeral ceremony fills this need and provides people with an important place to share in their grief and help the living say goodbye. There are ways to still include everyone in a funeral, even if they cannot attend in person:

Live streaming the service

Organise video messages from loved ones to be screened at the funeral

Have written messages to share at the funeral

Create a video of the funeral to share with others

Consider asking family and friends to pause for a moment of remembrance at the same time as those attending the funeral

covid check-in and funerals

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Australian governments have issued enforceable government directions which include keeping records of contact details of funeral attendees for the purposes of contact tracing if exposed to a case of COVID-19  in the community.

Businesses and organisations that provide funeral services and wakes are required to collect patron details and must address this requirement in their COVID-19 Safety Plan. The Service NSW Covid Safe Check-in app is recommended. When you check in to a business using the Service NSW app, only the location of the business and time of visit is recorded. This information is stored for 28 days and only for the purpose of contact tracing, if necessary. It’s a secure way for your information to be stored so you can be contacted easily if required. Visit NSW Government website for further information.

Places of worship and wedding and funeral organisers must be registered for and using the Check In CBR app. Everyone 16 years and older must check in. This will store their information directly with ACT Health and be used for contact tracing (if required). Their personal information is stored by ACT Health for 28 days and then deleted. Visit ACT Government website for further information.

Businesses are required to collect contact information from staff and patrons using the Check In Qld app for the purpose of contact tracing. Information collected will assist the local public health unit to contact trace in the event a person attended one of these businesses while they were infectious with COVID-19. Information collected will be kept by the Queensland Government for 56 days to assist with contact tracing, if required. Visit QLD Government website for further information.

The Victorian Government QR Code Service or an API compatible digital record keeping service is mandatory in most customer facing industries, to help with COVID-19 contact tracing. The Victoria QR code app integrates with the Victorian Department of Health’s contact tracing system. Check-in at venues supports contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 incident. Visit VIC Government website for further information.

The South Australian Government has introduced the COVID SAfe Check-In for contact tracing. The COVID-SAfe Check in is a feature that has been added to the mySA GOV app. A person who participates in a defined public activity or who enters a venue must upload their relevant contact details. If someone in South Australia tests positive to COVID-19, the COVID SAfe Check-In enables SA Health to quickly contact others who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Visit SA Government website for further information.

Businesses and organisations must review their COVID-19 Safety Plan every six months, appoint a COVID Safety Supervisor to implement their plan and collect customer contact details. The Northern Territory Government has introduced The Territory Check In app to make it easy for customers to self-check-in. Customers details will be sent automatically to NT Health, where they will be safely and securely stored. Customer information will only be accessed if required for contact tracing and destroyed after 28 days. Visit NT Government website for further information.

Places of worship, funeral parlours and venues where events are held and certain outdoor functions and gatherings under 500 people including funerals/memorial services will be required to maintain contact registers for WA Health Department COVID-19 contact tracing. The WA Government has developed a free app, SafeWA, which assists businesses to maintain their contact register. Contact register information collected through SafeWA is stored securely for at least 28 days, unless required for contact tracing by WA Health. Visit WA Government website for further information.

Tasmanians and visitors are required to use the Check In TAS app when they visit places of worship, religious gatherings, religious premises, and other similar premises, including those used to conduct a funeral. The app enables you to check-in to businesses, venues and events and have your data stored securely with the Tasmanian Department of Health. Details will be stored securely with the Tasmanian Department of Health for 28 days before being deleted and can only be accessed by Public Health if contact tracing is needed due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the community. Visit the TAS Government website for further information.

Plan a memorial for a later date

Another option is to plan a memorial at a later date for your loved one when the restrictions on gatherings have been lifted. A memorial can be held in the funeral home or at another location that has significant meaning for your loved one. This will allow you to celebrate and reflect on the life of your loved one with all of your family and friends.

frequently asked questions

Yes, there has been no change as to your choice of a burial or a cremation.

A funeral can be arranged over the phone or via electronic options such as FaceTime with your funeral director.

There is no difference however there may a time delay due to those attending self-isolating for a period of 14 days.

Family viewing of the deceased may be possible however family members should avoid any contact with the body.  

This will be reviewed by your funeral director and discussed with you to explain the various options available.

Further resources

Australian Government Department of Health

Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement

Grief and Bereavement and COVID-19

Center for Loss and Life Transition

Funerals in the time of Coronavirus: Thoughts for families by Dr Alan Wolfelt

Center for Loss and Life Transition

Condolences in the time of COVID-19: Guidance for conveying your love and support by Dr Alan Wolfelt