Co-op Funeralcare updates on coronavirus

During the coronavirus outbreak we’re still open and here to support you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, to follow the government advice on social distancing, the way we do things has had to change.

If someone has died, contact your local funeral home and we'll bring them into our care as soon as possible.

We're able to make funeral arrangements over the phone, and we'll send any forms or documents needed for the funeral in the post or by email.

If you need to visit one of our funeral homes, all face-to-face meetings must have a pre-arranged appointment. We can only allow two clients in the funeral home at any one time, both for appointments and visits to the chapel of rest.

Please let us know if:

  • you’ve returned from any foreign country in the past 14 days,
  • you’ve been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected coronavirus,
  • you’ve been showing the following symptoms in the past 14 days: a persistent cough, high temperature, a shortness of breath.

We’ll advise on what you need to do and how we can best support you.

Can I still arrange a funeral?

We’re still arranging funerals and we’ll continue to look after loved ones in our care in a respectful and dignified way at all times with the highest level of care. See our funerals below:

What’s changed for funeral services?

As we need to follow government advice, it’s highly likely that funerals carried out in this time will not be how you, or the person who’s died would originally have wanted the funeral to be. We want to reassure you that we’ll do everything we can to help you to say goodbye.

To maintain our levels of care to clients and colleagues, unfortunately there are a number of changes that we have to make to our service and we can no longer offer the following:

  • embalming
  • bringing the coffin to rest at your home before the funeral
  • taking fingerprints for silver fingerprints jewellery if the death is due to coronavirus
  • catering services
  • limousines - we ask you to use your own transport to the funeral
  • taking donations on families behalf - we ask that any donations are made direct to the chosen charity or organisation online
  • dressing your loved one in their own clothes - a high quality dressing robe alternative will be used

Please also note that:

  • mourners will not be able to assist with handling, carrying or lowering the coffin - the coffin will be moved using a wheeled bier
  • there may be less flexibility day and time of the funeral - if this is the case, we’ll work through all the options with you

Can the funeral have a church service?

The Church of England, Scotland and Wales and Catholic Diocese have stopped taking services or are closed until further notice. This means we can no longer include a church service in funeral arrangements. However, we can arrange a short service at the graveside or at the crematorium with a small number of mourners.

Can the funeral still follow religious customs?

Your local Funeral Director will be able to advise on the options available for specific rituals and customs at this time. We want to reassure you that we’ll do everything we can to help you to say goodbye.

Are there any restrictions on the type of funeral for someone who’s died from coronavirus?

We’re well prepared to take care of people who have died with coronavirus in line with the official guidance. We have the necessary equipment, systems, processes and trained personnel to do this. We have specific ways of working prepared for anyone who dies in either an NHS facility or within the community, adapted from the PHE and HSE guidance.

Currently, there are no restrictions that prevent someone who has died from coronavirus having a funeral, whether that’s for a cremation or a burial. We’re following government guidelines closely on this and should the advice change we’ll provide updates on this page.

How can I register the death?

You’ll need to register the death before the funeral can take place. The person who registers the death usually needs to visit the local Registrar to do this, however due to recent changes, you can now do this over the phone or online.

If you’re self-isolating or unable to register the death with the Registrar directly, we’re now able to do this on your behalf. Please contact your local Co-op Funeralcare and we can provide further guidance for the local Registrar.

Attending a funeral

How many people can attend a funeral?

For everyone's safety, the number of attendees at a funeral service should be kept as low as possible to maintain social distancing measures.

Where our funeral homes have service chapels to hold funeral services, we've restricted the number of attendees to a maximum of 10.

Some local crematoria and other venues are allowing more than 10 mourners to attend a funeral service. As every venue may have different rules on how many are allowed at a funeral service, your local funeral director will be able to let you know how many attendees your chosen funeral venue allows.

Who can attend a funeral?

You should check with the person who’s arranging the funeral first if you're not sure whether you should attend the funeral.

We suggest only the following should attend:

  • members of the person’s household
  • close family
  • close friends (if family are unable to attend)
  • a celebrant, if a service has been arranged

It’s also necessary for us to ask that anyone from the higher risk groups (Over 70s, pregnant, immunocompromised) should not attend.

Unless you live in the same household, we're asking mourners to ensure they are always 2 metres apart from each other.

Your local funeral home will be able to provide you with the most up to date guidance for your local area. Find your local funeral home here.

0800 088 4883 (24 hour service)

Visiting a funeral home

We’re restricting the number of people visiting our funeral homes at any one time to a maximum of 2, in order to protect our clients and colleagues.

We’re likely to ask you a couple of questions, for example, to understand if you fall into a high-risk group. We’ll make sure a suitable distance between us to comply with guidance on social distancing.

My local Co-op Funeralcare is closed, what should I do?

Unfortunately, it may not be possible for all of our funeral homes to remain open if colleagues are themselves self-isolating or become unwell. If your local funeral home has had to close temporarily, you can contact our team on 0800 088 4872 who will be able to help you.

Can I still visit my loved one in the chapel of rest?

You can continue to visit loved ones in our care, but we do ask that only immediate family or close friends do this. Please call us to make an appointment to visit, this is so we can make sure we limit the number of visitors to the funeral home at any one time.

In some areas with high infection rates, such as London, we may only allow one visit to the chapel of rest, with a maximum of 2 people present. Your local funeral director will be able to let you know what applies in your local area.

If your loved one’s death was coronavirus related, unfortunately we’re unable to let you visit, to prevent further onward infection and to keep you safe.

Will there be hygiene measures in place if I visit a funeral home?

We have hand washing facilities and hand sanitiser available and we’re taking every precaution in our funeral homes to make sure that we continue to have high standards of hygiene.

Can I delay a funeral for a later date, when government controls have been lifted?

As at this stage, it’s not clear how long restrictions may be in place, therefore our guidance is that funerals should take place as soon as possible, rather than to be delayed indefinitely.

You may want to think about holding a celebration of life or a memorial service at a later date when restrictions have been lifted and we’ll give you all the help you need with this.

What should I do if I have difficulty paying for a funeral?

We know a funeral can often be an unexpected cost. If during the funeral arrangement, you feel like the funeral is costing more than you are comfortable with, please tell your Funeral Director. We know that money can be difficult at this time so please don’t hesitate to speak to us about ways to keep the cost down.

If you're experiencing financial hardship, you may qualify for support from Co-op Funeralcare's Hardship Fund. Find out more here.

Alternatively, you may be able to get help with funeral costs from the government.

Helping you say goodbye

We're proud to serve our communities, and our colleagues in our funeral homes are finding unique and beautiful ways to honour the ones we've lost. From arranging for our hearse to visit the people and places that meant so much, to helping you arrange a fitting memorial service when we're allowed to meet again.

It's also why we're working with our charity partners Mind, SAMH and Inspire, who can provide the bereaved with information and practical support.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but we're working hard to do everything we can to make it as loving and caring as possible.

Changes to pre-paid funeral plans

What if items in my funeral plan are no longer available due to coronavirus?

Due to the changes we’ve had to make to our funeral services to comply with government controls, this will impact our ability to fulfil the services included in any Co-op funeral plans that are redeemed at this time. We’ll do our best to carry out your loved ones funeral to honour their wishes, but there are limitations to our services at this challenging time.

We’re currently providing partial refunds on funeral plans where the services can’t be met, your funeral director will talk you through anything that cannot be fulfilled and arrange a refund for these services.

What if I can't pay for my funeral plan instalments?

If you already have a Co-op funeral plan and are struggling to pay for your plan, please contact us and we can discuss all available options with you.

Refunds and cheques for cancelled plans

If you’ve cancelled a plan, the refund generally takes up to 4 weeks to process. If you have waited longer than the agreed 4 weeks please email our customer care team at they will be able to provide help with any queries.

General queries

Speak with your local funeral director if you have any questions about arranging or attending a funeral. Each local area will probably do things a little differently but your funeral director will be able to advise on this.

We’re here to help support and guide you through. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 0800 088 4872

0800 088 4883 (24 hour service)