Update COVID-19

Update December 15, 2020


The numbers of deceased with COVID-19 increased in Austria since beginning of November. Although the number of infected people decreased because of the country’s second strict lockdown (ended on Dec 6), the situation is still challenging. The 7-days incidence is currently 209.


French government simplified administrative rules concerning funerals as an extension of the derogation for burial or cremation from 6 to 21 days from 12 December 2020 to 16 March 2021.

The number of participants at religious funerals is no longer limited to 30 people but to the capacity of the place of worship to accommodate people with the necessary distance.

For funeral homes, crematoria and cemeteries the number of persons is still limited to 30.


Recent partial lockdown did not result in the effects that the government was hoping to achieve. In December the number of Covid infected and deceased persons shows a sharp increase so that capacity of health facilities risks getting out of control (intensive care 4,500 persons and increasing). Number of deaths 350 – 600 a day, total deaths about 22,000.

Government implemented a stricter lockdown from December 16th through to January 10th with bars/restaurants, non-essential shops and all leisure facilities closed. Only work, shopping for necessities, doctor/hospital are allowed. Schools will be closed (home-schooling or holiday) as well. Gatherings of max. 5 persons (two households) in public places. All festivities incl. New Year fireworks and gatherings are forbidden.

Funerals can still be held with hygienic measures being upheld. (Further restrictions regarding max. number of persons etc. are currently under consideration by regional authorities.)


Correction made regarding the numbers of Covid19 test done per day: not between 20/50,000 but between 150/200,000.

The situation remains unchanged for the funeral sector but the colours of the regions are changing like traffic lights. A general downgrade (no more regions in red) last weekend, resulted in too many gatherings due to the Christmas shopping. There is concrete possibility many regions will revert to red soon again. We are still seeing higher numbers of positives, hospitalizations and covid deaths.


The situation is getting better with the recent restrictions but very far from the goal. Number of new Covid cases still very high - about 529 cases per 100,000 population in the last 14 days. The main cities are decreasing their figures and have downgraded their risk colour. Nevertheless, Lisbon and Oporto are still high-risk regions and maintain restrictions at night and on weekends.

Funeral are still allowed and can be held taking the capacity of the vigil room (1 person/20m²) into account. Just the Covid deceased cannot have any wake and are transferred directly to the cemetery/crematorium.


Generally, the situation has been improving in recent weeks, but it seems that this development has stalled in recent days. The number of new Covid cases is about 193 cases per 100,000 population in the last 14 days. Restrictions are more or less the same in four stages on a regional level, including curfews, closing of facilities, i.e. bars/restaurants, shopping.

Update December 2020


Lockdown since beginning of November with shops and schools closed, with gradual lifting in two-week stages. The number of deceased more than doubled in last month – now at 2,700. Max. 50 persons at funerals.


France has reported over 2,100,000 Covid-19 cases, of which over 50,237 have died. Cases now more widespread across the country, with overcrowded funeral homes and time delays of average two weeks. Over 12,000 new hospitalisations, thereof over 1,800 in intensive care. Mortalities October 2020 compared to October 2019 show an increase of 31,188 deaths.

Lockdown since October 30th with bars/restaurants closed, non-essential shops closed, work, shopping, doctor/hospital by permit only, one hour outside of home within 1 km radius allowed. Funerals limited to 30 people.

Mid-term plan to gradually lift restrictions is in place for December through to January 20th and have been announced to the public by the French President.


Partial lockdown continues through December with slight changes for Christmas. Schools remain open; all leisure facilities are closed. Regional curfews in place in high-risk areas. Funerals can still be held with hygienic measures being upheld. Max. number of persons varies by region. Number of Covid infected per day still increasing and restrictions are to keep capacity of health facilities under control. Number of deaths 300-400 per day. Total deaths 19,000.


New cases per day 28-30,000. Tests performed per day 20-50,000. The number of (assumed) Covid deaths are around 600-700 per day. Over 1,400,000 total cases, with over 51,000 deaths.

Restrictions in place based on severity: yellow stage = light lockdown (e.g. work and school allowed), orange = medium (decision by municipality), red = high (e.g. stay home, no school) .


The situation in Norway is overall the same, we have local increasing numbers of infected persons, but the total numbers of deceased with Covid-19 just over 300. Total cases 34,000. Oslo considered “red zone” – no bars, no alcohol, stay home. Tourist attractions all closed.

General restrictions with funeral ceremonies up to 200 participants, but private gatherings is restricted to 50 people.


Portugal now encountering more challenges Oct/Nov than recent months. Over 217,000 cases and over 4,000 deaths. Twice as many deaths in November than during the first wave of the pandemic.  8% more deaths than 2019. Restrictions/lockdown (similar to Italy) based on severity in region, whereby 80% account for yellow or red, i.e. only 20% medium throughout the country. Weekend shops open mornings only. Max. 5 people for gatherings in public spaces. Funerals 20m² per person.


Lockdown in four stages on a regional level, including curfews, closing of facilities, i.e. bars/restaurants, shopping.

Over 1,600,000 cases with almost 44,000 deaths. New cases 12,000 per day with over 500 deaths per day.

Max 30% of capacity allowed at funerals.


No lockdown, but some restrictions, e.g. gatherings max. 8 persons, funerals max. 20 people. Average attendance in Sweden 24 persons and therefore not yet a major impact. 2,500 more deaths than usual. Total 6,500 deaths to date with not of Covid. Cause of death of Covid estimated at 3%.

Update November 2020


In Austria funerals now have a limit of 100 participants. The number of deceased is in total 1064. The number of infected people is increasing heavily. We are expecting stronger restrictions.


Strict restrictions have been put in place for the month of November (partial lockdown) by the federal government for all counties. All schools remain open and all leisure facilities are closed. Funerals can still be held with hygienic measures being upheld.  Number of Covid infected is increasing rapidly (19,000+ on 31.10.2020) and restrictions are to keep capacity of health facilities under control. Number of deaths very slightly increased.

However, each of the 16 countries can implement their own rules. Example: Burials and funeral ceremonies remain permitted. At every funeral, the minimum distance of 1.50 m must be observed. An everyday mask must always be worn in mourning halls; for funerals in the open air only if there are 25 or more participants.  The pastor may take off the mask. An attendance list must always be kept in closed rooms. Only close relatives without distancing measures allowed in outside services. For private mourning halls, 10m² space per person. Catering services generally prohibited.


The number of (assumed) Covid deaths are around 200 per day. The number of contagions are increasing day by day (almost 20.000). The government issued a new act last Monday that impose some strong restrictions on the leisure time activities, disco, cinema, theaters and gym must to be closed, bar – restaurants and pub, open till 6,00 p.m. but no more than 6 people at the same table. Obligation to wear the mask everywhere –except home! They push on the smart working and the school are open but with some restrictions.

There is the concrete possibility the lockdown in will be declared in some cities and areas where the number of contagions - a well as the hospitalizations - are dangerously high.


The situation in Norway is overall the same, we have local increasing numbers of infected persons, but the total numbers of deceased of Covid-19 are only 275.

We have the same general restrictions with funeral ceremonies up to 200 participants, but private gatherings is restricted to 50 people, even only 20 in some municipalities.


Portugal has reported 144.341 Covid cases which 81.771 are already recovered and 2.544 deaths. In October have been registered at the last 7 days a daily average of 3.596 new Covid cases (+512% than April) and 30 deaths per day (+7% than April). So, this is increasing and the authorities are concerned about the capacity of health facilities to attend everybody.

New rules for some regions are announced as: civic duty to be at home; differentiate schedules of the employees; obligation to work at home always when it’s possible; 5 person at maximum joint together; funeral with no limit in out space just for family, in side chapels or other inside rooms depends of the area; general use of mask even outside; commercial shops and restaurants must close at 22H00.


In Spain, at the request of the Government, Congress has approved a new emergency state, for a period 6 months. Under this legal coverage, the regions (“Comunidades Autónomas”) may approve different restrictions depending on how the pandemic evolves in their territories.

The first one, a curfew every night of the week, from 10-12 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next day. The perimeter closure of all municipalities and some regions has also been imposed (not home confinement). In many regions, restaurants are closed (only delivery/take away is allowed), and cinemas, theatres, sports clubs, etc. too. Schools are still open and in universities, classes are mostly taught online.

The rate of new infections is increasing a lot (25.595 new cases on last Saturday). Spain has reported 1.190.000 Covid cases and 35.877 deaths. The daily number of hospital admissions is also increasing and the authorities are concerned  that the health system could collapse within a few weeks.

But the rules are beginning to have positive effects in the territories where they began to apply two weeks ago.

In our sector, the situation is under control by the moment. The number of daily Covid deaths has grown but fortunately it is well below the levels reached in March and April. Wakes: limited to 6 people. Ceremonies: limited to 30 % of capacity. This All Saints weekend, the number of visitors to cemeteries has dropped significantly, compared to last year.  


We have no lockdowns, but we currently have a very large spread of infection in the country at the same time as we increase the number of guests at funerals from 50 to 300. Which is very doubtful when the spread of infection is at its highest. Number of deaths are very low.

Update October 2020

Many countries all over the world are yet again facing difficult and challenging times and we are far from normaility in all aspects of our current life. However, we have all been able to learn how to deal with the pandemic on all levels and we continue to support our members whereever possible. Please contact us at any time.


Update from the EFFS Board members:

France: funeral ceremonies allowed with up to 20 people; total deaths 28,000; state of emergency extended to July 10, 2020

Sweden: waiting period for funerals increased from normal 24 days to 30 days; no embalming; all deceased body bags mandatory; total deaths 4,200 thereof 3,900 in last 10 weeks with 50% in Stockholm; funerals with max. 50 persons allowed; viewing allowed

Italy: many restrictions and regulations lifted as of May 11, 2020; funerals allowed with up to 15 persons; COVID-19 deceased - forbidden to dress the deceased body, show and view it, closed coffin; total deaths 34,000; mortality rate returning to normal rate

Germany: steps toward normality throughout the country; major problem federalism; each of 16 counties can make own decisions on regulations and restrictions; total deaths 8,000; normal daily mortality rate in comparison 2,500 deaths; funerals limited depending on county from family members only to max. 50 persons; PPE shortage for funeral professionals and hospitals

Spain: mortality rate started returning to normal numbers beginning of April; since mid-May at normal rate; steps back to normality in four phases (0-4) with two-week intervals; most municipalities in phase 1 with Barcelona and Madrid at phase 0; total deaths 28,000 with no more outbreaks; new infections low; funerals with max. 10 persons; funeral faculties can only operate at 30% of max. capacity

Portugal: state of emergency lifted end of April; 29,000 positive COVID cases, 1,200 deaths, 4% of cases died due to COVID and 24% were COVID infected; max. 10 people at any gathering; nationwide decision by members of Portuguese Funeral Association not to practice the tradition of vigils; bereaved can view deceased 30-40 minutes before funeral

Austria: closing of borders caused problems; schools and shops have re-opened; funerals up to 30 persons allowed; variations depending on size of facility (10m² per person); 500 total deaths; digitalisation and streaming services increased substantially; revenue down by 25% due to less services being purchased for funerals

Slovakia: outdoor funeral allowed; up to 5 persons; total deaths 24 nationwide; government closed borders, airports, schools, churches; moving towards normality in four phases with the country now at phase 3; schools re-opening in June; PPE becoming difficult; COVID19 infected body bag mandatory

Norway: lockdown since March 13, 2020, epicentre Oslo; reduced revenue at funerals; max. 50 people; total deaths 235; mortality rate including COVID deceased less than same time last year; re-opening commencing; Norwegian production of PPE; streaming services well received


Update from Croatia:

Recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

International funeral drivers can enter Croatia and leave Croatia without self-isolation.

Croatian and foreign citizens entering the Republic are obliged to adhere to these recommendations and instructions for 14 days from the day of crossing the state border as follows:

  • During the first 14 days from the entry into the Republic of Croatia, exits from the accommodation are limited only to the necessary: ​​performing work if it is a business reason for entering the Republic
  • Croatia, performing the necessary activities with continuously intensified implementation of hygiene measure.
  • It is recommended to use a mouth mask or nasal cover during necessary exits from the accommodation, maintain physical distance from other people (minimum 1.5 meters) and carry out hand hygiene. Wash your hands as often as possible with warm soapy water and / or use a disinfectant to hands that should be rubbed well into the palms. Avoid touching face, mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Avoid using public transport. If using transport, it is desirable that the person alone or exclusively with persons sharing shared accommodation.
  • Groupings and public gatherings should be consistently avoided
  • During business meetings, as few people as possible should be met, physical space should be ensured of 1.5 meters with the availability of disinfectants, avoid unnecessary meetings.
  • During their stay in the accommodation, such persons prepare food themselves, i.e. use delivery services for food and beverage
  • Payment services are performed by cashless card payment or online services.
  • It is necessary to measure body temperature every morning; if it is higher than 37.2°, it is necessary repeat the measurement after 10 minutes, and if the temperature is again higher than 37.2°, it is necessary to stay at home / in accommodation and contact the chosen family medicine doctor if any (Croatian citizens), or a territorially competent epidemiologist
  • In case of symptoms of acute respiratory infection (cough, sore throat, increased body temperature, shortness of breath / difficulty breathing, loss of sense of smell and taste), it is necessary to stay at home / in accommodation and contact the chosen family medicine doctor if any (Croatian citizens), or a territorially competent epidemiologist
  • In case of sudden onset of severe, life-threatening symptoms, the person appears in an emergency medical service.
  • If symptoms of respiratory disease occur. If you develop symptoms of respiratory disease (fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, weakness) call your chosen doctor, who will, based on your medical condition assess the need for possible testing for a new coronavirus. If you need it seek medical attention for reasons other than respiratory illness, call your chosen doctor or some it is contacted by one of your family members for a consultation and arrangement for a home visit. Don't go alone to a health facility without prior telephone notice.

Croatian Institute of Public Health website https://www.hzjz.hr/sluzba-epidemiologija-zaraznebolesti/koronavirus-najnovije-preporuke/


Update from Italy:

Since May 4, Italy has entered the so-called Phase 2, which means a progressive loosening of social limitations and a widening of the reopening of economic activities.

With regard to deaths  the lockdown has been effective and, although in a differentiated way, the mortality rate is showing a tendency toward the expected rate. At the same time, the Ministry of Health has strengthened the instruments for monitoring the dynamics of the parameter R with zero, in order to keep track of the generation of new outbreaks and to intervene in time to contain them, even on a small scale.

Phase 2 has provided for the resumption of funeral rites, even though with restrictions on the participation of the mourners: no more than 15 people and with prophylaxis and safety measures (in particular, social distancing and the use of masks).

By regulation of local authorities, cemeteries are open to citizens and operators, but with recommendations to avoid crowding.

In regions particularly affected by the epidemic, the funeral sector has been under severe stress, particularly in terms of cremation.

The state of emergency has highlighted critical issues that have emerged during this period but present under track in ordinary situations: information system, simplification of procedures and introduction of digital platforms.

We have to commend several experiences promoted by voluntary associations as well as by operators to help in the elaboration mourning in remote for those who have been unable to carry out funeral rites because of quarantine or other restrictions.


Update from Germany:

The federal government is moving towards "normality" by lifting many restrictions and allowing several activities to take place and businesses to re-open throughout the month of May. No changes in maintaining 1,5 to 2 meters distance everywhere. No new guidelines for the funeral sector.


Update from Spain:

The situation in Spain is improving. On Monday May 4th, a new period of confinement begins, with several phases that will gradually lighten the situation to go back to normal, although it will be different. Hopefully the data of new infected and deaths continue to drop. The initial planned duration of each phase is 2 weeks. The results will be assessed province by province and the period may be extended from week to week separately, each at its own pace.

In the funeral sector, some new regulations will be mandatory from Monday, May 11th:

Funeral homes (“tanatorios”):

  • Phase I:  visitation rooms/wakes only for a limited number of relatives, with physical distance and safety protocols                 
  • Phase II: visitation rooms/wakes only for a less limited number of relatives, with physical distance and safety protocols    
  • Phase III: visitation rooms/wakes for a bigger number of visitors, with physical distance and safety protocols         

Ceremonies in churches or funeral homes:

  • Phase I: limitation of 1/3 of the capacity
  • Phase II: limitation of 1/2 of the capacity
  • Phase III: no limitation

These regulations are not yet very clear or concrete and there is plenty of room for interpretation and application, especially in wakes. For this reason, the Spanish funeral sector will be submitting some precise ideas to the Health Minister in order to have more clarity on these regulations.


Pope at Mass prays for funeral service workers during pandemic

At the start of the Mass, Saturday morning, Pope Francis urges for prayers for those who work in funeral services. In his homily, he explains that the preaching of the faith is essentially witnessing to the Gospel.

At the start of the Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Saturday morning, Pope Francis urged for prayers for those working in funeral services. 

“What they do is something very painful and sad.  They are touched closely by the pain of this pandemic,” he said.