Updated: FUNERAL REGULATIONS DURING THE INITIAL 21 DAY LOCK DOWN PERIOD-V3

UPDATED 6 April 2020 at 10:00 and replaces all previous guidelines.

These have been summarized from the following:

Regulations and Gazette Notices issued on the:

  • 25th of March 2020 and
  • following further consultations on the 27 March 2020.
  • Amended regulations issued on the 2nd of April 2020
  • Further consultations on weekend of 3-6 April 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 V3

  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. seeking emergency, life- saving or chronic medical attention.
    5. transporting mortal remains and attending a funeral in another province or moving from a district area to a metropolitan area to attend a funeral. (See 3.2 below for requirements).
    6. All churches must be shut with immediate effect and may not be used for any gathering other than to conduct a funeral service. 
    7. 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:3.1.
  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 NCID.) 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 in private vehicles must carry no more than 60% of its capacity (so for e.g. a 20-seater kombi may only carry a maximum of 12 persons, social distancing and hand and coughing hygiene as detailed below must be maintained.) However, if a registered taxi kombi is used then this has now been increased to 70% capacity.
  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 advice to assist any other form may be used as long as it has the necessary details
  38. 3.2. Requirements for a person moving between a metropolitan and district area or province to attend a funeral.
  • Such a person shall only be permitted to do so if he/she is:
  1. Spouse or partner of the deceased
  2. Child of the deceased, whether biological, adopted or stepchild
  3. Child in law of the deceased
  4. Parent of the deceased, whether biological, adopted or stepparent
  5. Sibling, whether biological, adopted or stepbrother or sister of the deceased
  6. Grandparents of the deceased; and
  7. Person closely affiliated to the deceased. Closely affiliated means:
  • A person with parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the deceased or
  • A person who had developed a significant relationship based on the care- giving, psychological or emotional attachment to the deceased
    • Each person, whether travelling alone or not, wishing to attend a funeral or cremation and who has to travel between metropolitan and district areas or between provinces to attend a funeral MUST obtain a permit titled Form 2 (SEE ATTACHED). This should be obtained from the nearest Magistrate office or police station. To travel to the funeral or cremation and back to your residence.
    • A magistrate who is the head of office or a station commander of a police station or person designated by him or her may issue the permit in 3.2.2 above.
  1. A person applying for the permit must produce a death certificate or a certified copy of the death certificate to the magistrate or station commander or to the person designated by either of them.
  2. If the death certificate is not yet available, the person who is requesting the permit must do a sworn affidavit as reflected in Form 3 (SEE ATTACHED).
  3. The magistrate will not issue the permit without the death certificate or a sworn affidavit.
  4. Once the permit is issued, a person travelling to another metropolitan or district or province shall not say there for more than 48hrs and cannot stay in the place of residence or relative or friend, may stay at a hotel, lodge or guest house for the period of 48hrs. The owner of the hotel or guest house or lodge needs to be presented with the permit. The right of admission is reserved to the hotel or lodge or guest house.
  5. hotels, lodges and guest houses, will only be opened on exceptional circumstances to the extent that they are required for remaining tourists confined to hotels, lodges and guest houses and for purposes of regulation 11B(8)(h) to the extent that they are required for persons from another metropolitan area, district, or province;”.
  • Only 2 family members or a person with close affiliation to the deceased with the required permits may accompany the vehicle transporting the mortal remains to the metropolitan are or district or province where the burial or cremation will take place.
  • Copies of the permits issued, death certificates or affidavits must be kept by the magistrate office or station commander of a police station in a file for a period of three months after the lockdown has been uplifted, thereafter it can be destroyed.
  1. 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.
  2. Also please be aware that some police stations are applying these standards with regards to funerals. Government is working at getting it addressed as you can see from it that it was issued by a Municipal Manager of unknown Municipality in March 2018 and for some reason police stations are using it despite being shown the inconsistencies in terms of the regulations but please be aware of it.