Note for funeral homes:
NFDA’s recommendation is just that – a recommendation. If your state has issued mandates or guidance that is more stringent, you MUST follow those local limits – no exceptions. For example, your state may require that services be limited to 10 total people including family, clergy and funeral home staff. Or, you may be limited to 5, as is the case in Connecticut. Or, your state may have completely banned funerals, as is the case in New Jersey. Please follow the mandates in your state and adhere to whatever prescribed limits that have been put into place.
The importance of having a funeral to honor the deceased and giving loved ones an opportunity to celebrate that life and begin to grieve is unquestioned. While NFDA is deeply committed to promoting the value of a funeral, the unprecedented novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic requires this profession to balance our long-held values with the need to: flatten the curve of the pandemic; protect the health of attendees, funeral home staff and clergy/celebrant; and reduce the potential for community spread and mass-fatalities.
Unless your state’s guidelines are more restrictive, NFDA strongly recommends that, until further notice, funerals be limited to no more than 10 of the decedent’s immediate family members; this does not include funeral home staff, the clergy/celebrant or cemetery staff. NFDA also recommends services be held at the gravesite whenever possible; however, the nature of the disposition, such a cremation, may mean a service in the funeral home is more appropriate. Funeral homes should also encourage attendees to follow current social distancing guidelines by setting up seating accordingly.
As with any gathering or event, you should check with local health officials to determine whether there are prohibitions on holding public gatherings. Some states or cities have restricted public gatherings; these restrictions take precedence. Local cemeteries may also have their own guidelines.
Webcasting, Facetiming or livestreaming should also be used for the arrangement conference and/or funeral to help with social distancing and possible infection of the families and funeral home staff. It is also an excellent option as it offers a way for those who cannot be physically present at a service to still partake in the event. Visit https://nfda.org/covid-19/visitations-funerals for more information.
NFDA will be issuing a press release containing these guidelines immediately. A copy for you to use with your local media and on your website is attached. We will also provide a handout you can share with families you are serving.
Additionally, to educate the public about these recommendations, NFDA will conduct a social media campaign via its NFDA and Remembering A Life channels. We encourage you to join us in educating the public by sharing these future posts on your funeral home’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
(Update - April 3, 2020 - NFDA Members - access exclusive social media posts on the "Communicating with the Public" page in NFDA's COVID-19 Information Hub).
This guidance is based on “The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America” developed to slow the spread of COVID-19. We urge you to follow this guidance for the safety of your funeral home’s staff and the families and community you serve. NFDA will continue to monitor this guidance and provide updates as necessary.