UPDATE: FUNERAL REGULATIONS DURING THE INITIAL 21 DAY LOCK DOWN PERIOD-V2

UPDATED 28 MARCH 2020 at 10:00 and replaces all previous guidelines.

 

These have been summarized from the Regulations and Gazette Notices issued on the 25th of March 2020 and following further consultations on the 27 March 2020. Lockdown effective from 23h59 on Thursday 26th March 2020.

PLEASE BE PATIENT AND UNDERSTANDING WITH ALL PARTIES AS NOT ALL HAVE SAME DEGREE OF INFORMATION. ALSO, THESE MAY BE AMENDED CONSTANTLY SO PLEASE ENSURE YOU HAVE THE LATEST VERSION V2

  1. During the lock down period we are all confined to our places of residence unless:
    1. strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service (these are listed in Annexure D of the Regulations and include funeral services),
    2. obtaining an essential good or service (e.g. food and cleaning goods and some documents),
    3. obtaining a social grant,
    4. or seeking emergency, life- saving or chronic medical attention.
    5. All churches must be shut with immediate effect and may not be used for any gathering other than to conduct a funeral service. 
    6. All other services will now have to be recorded and live streamed from home chapels or studies.
  2. The only persons allowed on church premises are :
    1. people needed for maintenance or security
    2. those whose home or place of residence is there (caretakers, or rectors and their families)
    3. People, including minister, family, mourners and undertakers for purpose of conducting a funeral service only, subject to a maximum of fifty (50)
  3. Regulations for funerals:
    1. The normal requirements for holding a funeral still have to be met and the following are further
    2. You have been issued with an essential services permit, please make certified copies of it and of your ID document, you will need it.
    3. Also please issue your parish ministers who will assist you at the funeral service with an essential service permit that includes date and time for when the permit may be used. They should not be given general permissions as you have.
    4. In order for any funeral to be conducted, an affidavit (template attached and please present two copies for certification- a copy for the church and second may be kept by station as police are required to keep a copy) has to be completed.
    5. This affidavit must be completed by the priest who is going to perform the funeral service, it must be done at the nearest police station BEFORE any funeral can be held. This is effectively the permissions needed for the service to happen.
    6. A lot of responsibility rests with the minister performing the funeral and there will be a need for support from parish council in this regard. Please ensure that you issue them with an essential service permit please.
    7. Please be aware that the Undertaker also has to complete an affidavit that amongst other things will detail the route to be taken to cemetery or crematorium.
    8. The maximum number of people must include EVERYBODY, family, mourners, children, parish ministers and undertakers.
    9. At present, this may mean that under maximum regulation, family may only invite 45 (forty-five) people to the funeral as the other 5 (five) spaces already taken by minister plus two (wardens, councilor or sides person) to assist plus two members from the undertaker.
    10. The maximum number provided for in the Regulations is 50 (fifty). However, this may be further limited by the size of the church in which the funeral is being held. Still need to reserve five places as set out above.
    11. In order to determine the maximum number of people, you would need to divide the square meters of the church (its size) by 2. (This requirement of a 2m social distance was received this evening from the NICD.) So, the minimum size of the church is 100 square meters to accommodate 50 people. (=100/2).
    12. It is suggested that only one entry and exit be opened, warden/sides person accompanied by a relative or family representative to manage the door and attendance as this could become fraught.
    13. You will need to ensure that a register of attendees with full contact details is kept. Please ensure that you include the details of all attendees, including yourself.
    14. Please be aware that further conditions may apply as relevant to the applicable municipality and all guidelines and directives of funeral homes and enforcement officers must be complied with. These may include limits of time for the funeral service so please confirm this beforehand. At present, this is limited to one hour.
    15. No night vigils or other services of comfort or memorials are allowed.
    16. No after tears or social gatherings following the service may be permitted and churches may not be used for this purpose. While some municipalities are giving permission for this, our legal and medical advisers are strongly advising against this, for the same reasons as stated below. Also such a gathering would be in violation of the lockdown provisions. Please support families through this.
    17. When service is held, all safety measures must be strictly adhered to. It is suggested that these measures or rules be posted on door and read before commencing the service.
    18. The body of the deceased to come from the undertaker directly to the church and then to the cemetery or crematorium. ( We are aware that in some places the body may be taken home, but our medical and health professionals are again advising against this as increased risk of social contact and exposure as homes not able to accommodate the number of people. Please manage this with care.)
    19. Attendance at funerals are limited to (fifty) 50 people maximum if the church can accommodate. If the church is smaller, we may not put up additional structures . Use of an existing hall to increase the number not being encouraged so please don’t offer as an option. Concern about crowd control. This number includes family, mourners, and children as well as service ministers and undertakers.
    20. In order to meet this condition, an invitation will have to be issued for the funeral and a list of ALL attendees as well as complete contact details
    21. A register of attendance must also be completed with full contact details. This list needs to be kept by the minister as well in as it becomes crucial in the event that tracing of attendees is required. I am aware that some funerals happening soon, so please have a list for completion if attendees not invited. Still limit to maximum number of 50 if venue permits. (Easier to complete register if invitee list used for completion at funeral service as will already be pre-populated but this may not be possible.) Only single register to be made so time to complete this must be provided for.
    22. Entrance and movement may only be allowed on presenting the invitation when stopped on the road as well as being given admission to the funeral service. Further guidance may be provided by the funeral home.
    23. Persons (ministers, mourners and even undertakers) availing themselves of this essential service must also be aware that they may be subjected to COVID-19 screening by an enforcement officer. (if feeling ill or having flu-like symptoms best to stay home as possible you may be placed in quarantine.)
    24. Also, if cause of death is COVID-19 related, there are special requirements for these funerals and again you will be provided these by the funeral home.
    25. The family may view the deceased but no kissing or touching of the body is permitted. Hands must be washed or sanitized ( hygiene protocol to be followed) again after any viewing.  Please discuss this with the family and see if possible to view privately at mortuary prior to burial but may not be practical. Again, please handle with care.
    26. Transport used to and from the funeral service must carry no more than 50% of its capacity (so for e.g. a 20-seater kombi may only carry a maximum of 10 persons, social distancing and hand and coughing hygiene as detailed below must be maintained.)
    27. ALL attendees at the funeral service will have to maintain strict hand hygiene. (Washing with soap and water for at least 40 seconds or if not possible, cleaning of hands with sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Also, hygiene coughing is encouraged, (cough into v of one elbow and use other hands elbow to greet if that method of greeting preferred!) You may also cough into a tissue, but these must be disposed of as set out below.
    28. Social distancing and the maintenance of recommended hygiene practices is encouraged. Municipalities are directed to monitor this.
    29. Social distancing is recommended as a distance of at least two meters apart. (NICD standard announced on the evening of the 27th March).
    30. Hugging or holding of hands not permitted (please be sensitive as this extremely difficult for the bereaved). If any of this does occur, hand hygiene would have to be undertaken and there may be additional requirements from enforcement officers.
    31. Hand hygiene also to be followed before entering the church, after viewing and again when leaving the church.
    32. This may have to be repeated at the cemetery or crematoria, again please follow this requirement as well as any directives from the undertaker. (we will need to moisturize hands too as virus can enter cracks caused by washing so please be careful).
    33. All tissues used during the funeral service at the church and cemetery or crematoria must please be placed in a special container (medical disposal bin or properly sealed shopping plastic {yes I know} bag) and then disposed of as medical waste and must please not be placed in normal waste disposal bins. If possible to incinerate please do so safely. Local GP’s and funeral home should be able to assist in this regard.
    34. Ministers who are to perform a funeral service would need a special permit issued by the Diocesan Bishop or VG on the attached form. Annexure C Form 1.
    35. The undertaking to be signed by the family or organizers is attached and marked as Declaration.
    36. The format for the Affidavit is attached and marked Affidavit.
    37. The template for attendance register is also attached and marked as such. This is merely advise to assist any other form may be used as long as it has the necessary details.
  4. Please also be aware that any person that does not observe the restriction on the movement of persons during the lockdown, including the regulations for funerals, or opens a place of worship for any purpose other than to conduct a funeral service is guilty of an offence and on conviction, is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.