Update COVID-19


Update from Germany:

The German Association of Funeral Directors have submitted a request to the National Society of Hospitals asking to standardise a process for all German hospitals on procedures to be taken following the death of a corona patient. The submission is based on information received from hospital management in a large German city and provides guidedlines for e.g. on necessary informaton to be included in death certificates, refraining from an autopsy or embalming, disinfecting measures, to the point of handing over to the funeral professional.


Update from France:

The High Council of Public Health has issued a new advisory on the contagion of the deceased:

  • Preparatory measures for funeral without using water is allowed.
  • Embalming is still forbidden.
  • Presentation of the deceased is now allowed in the body bag by opening it 10 cm. Restriction of not allowing family members to see their deceased was waived.
  • All handling of the deceased must be done with PPE.

All three French professional funeral federations (private and public) have written to the Prime Minister to denounce the lack of equipment to accomplish our mission and have also requested to be listed as priority professions to access the masks. However, we have not yet had any.

Furthermore, the government has simplified the funeral regulations for one month knowing that each file will have to be regulated. Religious authorities, such as Muslim and Jewish recommend not to touch the body of a deceased.

Update from the UK: (from the Cremation Society)

The bereavement sector in the UK  is represented by a number of organisations, covering both funeral directors and those who manage, provide and work in cemeteries and crematoria. There has always been a great deal of mutual support and cooperation between all the kindred organisations.

In view, however, of the current extraordinary circumstances in which our communities and individuals now find themselves, the organisations have agreed to work together in order to be able to better support not only their members but society as a whole.

As the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG), representatives from each of the following organisations will work together to develop a consensus approach to the many challenging issues which now face the sector.

  • The Association of Private Crematoria and Cemeteries (APCC)
  • Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA)
  • Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers' Association (FFMA)
  • Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM)
  • National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
  • National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)
  • The Cremation Society

During the current national emergency, we will all seek to deliver ongoing support to bereaved people in the United Kingdom.

We have launched a website and a Twitter page:  www.dmag2020.org and Twitter: @DMAG2020

We update these sites on a daily basis.


Update from UK

On 26 March 2020 the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, signed the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2020. Please click here for the Statement.

Thank you to Jeremy Field of CPJ Field & Co. for his valuable comment on how this impacts the funeral profession: "The intended benefit of these changes is to ease the administrative burden in death and ensure that any obstacles to the efficient processing of funeral arrangements are removed.

It should mean that funerals can happen quicker.  That doctors, families and funeral directors have less contact with third parties by not visiting too many locations in person (doctor doesn’t have to go to the funeral home, funeral director doesn’t have to take papers to the crematorium, grieving family don’t have to visit Registrar to register death etc.)

It also means that the local government can step in and manage funeral directors, crematoria and cemeteries if they need to.  We hope they don’t need to."


The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has just published their considerations when dealing with deceased persons. Please click here for the pdf or use this link.

Update Spain: During the state of emergency, the government has approved that the minimum waiting period of 24 hours before burial or cremation is waived. They have announced that Congress (Congreso de los Diputados) will vote this to extend the state of emergency for two more weeks to April 11th.


Update Spain: the Government declared the alarm state one week ago, with a lot of restrictive measures: confinement at home, people can only leave home for going to work or to buy elementary things, all shops closed except pharmacies , supermarkets or groceries, people are encouraged to work from home whereever possible.

Public hospitals are very saturated and close to collapse and all the private ones are also at the disposal to the health authorities to transfer the less serious patients there, even to hotels. The healthcare staff is doing a great job, and every day at 8 pm Spanish people go out to the balcony of our houses and applaud them.

In relation to funeral services, companies do all our best,  trying to protect our staff and deceased’s families. It’s not easy to get PPE but so far we have had enough: the Government finally considers funeral companies part of the health chain.

The Government has approved several specific measures,  and funeral companies some more. I write to you the obligatory ones and other that we apply in Altima:

No treatment of deceased, placed directly in a bag and in coffin. Covid’s deceased are transferred directly to the crematorium or cemetery, without a wake or ceremony (which is postponed for later), funeral homes are open to the rest of the deceased, only few hours (2-4) of stay in the visitation rooms for wakes, and restricted entry only for immediate family members (all coffins closed). The same with the ceremonies in funeral homes, no ceremonies in churches.

Repatriation of covid’s deceased are not permitted, because they cannot be embalmed. Deceased with other causes of death still possible.

Croatia: Funerals are held only with close family. Most of them are silent funerals. The priests hold ceremony without Holy Mass. Condolences expressed with hands are forbidden.

Update Portugal: Portugal has declared emergency. All commerce is closed and a lot of services. Funeral homes are allowed to work and be open to the public. The viewing and ceremony can take place as usual in the chapels but with limit of number of people at the same time. Problems with supply of PPE.

Update Germany: German Funeral Association has submitted request to German government that funeral professionals are classified as "system-critical" in the crisis. First regional governments have responded and added our profession accordingly.

Update France: In France, all masks FFP2 or FFP3 are reserved for medical personal, so we have a hard time to equip our funeral staff.

Update Austria: Encountering difficulties because the borders are closing and air traffic is reduced. No official or specificregulations have been issued.

Belgium: Crematoria Pontes has issued these guidelines with restrictive measures for their crematoria in Antwerp, Belgium.


United Kingdom:  click here for the joint Statement from representatives of the British funeral sector (The National Association of Funeral Directors, The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, The Cremation Society and the Association of Private Cemeteries and Crematoria)


Wishing first and foremost that everyone stays healthy.

We are all dealing with a very challenging situation, so let’s hope that the voluntary measures of everyone around the world, plus all of the official restrictions and decisions being made, will help to deflate the rate at which Corona is spreading. Most European governments are reacting in a similar way. 

Specifically for our profession, governments and/or national funeral associations around Europe are recommending procedures based on the development of the virus. Some examples:

  • Italyfuneral ceremonies forbidden across the country, funeral transports only allowed from place of death cemetery/crematoria, for corona deceased and no viewing whatsoever, kept closed following infectious disease protocol, strict restrictions on number of mourners allowed into  mortuary for non-corona deaths
  • Sweden: no autopsy, no embalming, body bag, no restrictons of ceremony or burial/cremation
  • Germany: pre-cautions and handling as infectious disease, no open coffin, no restrictions on type of burial
  • Portugalno treatment of body, two body bags, desinfection liquid between the body bags and strict use of PPE. No wake or vigil for theses cases
  • Netherlands: funerals of more than 30 people prohibited, funeral director should not visit family of corona deceased, but arrange ceremony by phone


We would like to draw your attention to information provided by the WHO, as well as the referenced guideline we recommend in our European Norm 15017.

The 2019 EN15017 Section 7 Funeral Facilities - includes "Practical Guidelines for Infection Control in Health Care Facilities" (ISBN 9290222387
©World Health Organization 2004. Please click here for this guideline.

The WHO Interim Guideline "Infection prevention and control of epidemic- and pandemic-prone acute respiratory diseases in health care" provides detailed recommendations on pre-cautionary hygienic measures. Please click here for this guideline.

Furthermore, the WHO link https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-rights-roles-respon-hw-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=bcabd401_0 is regularly updated.



Rational use of PPE, Source: WHO