Coronavirus: 'Only close friends and family should attend funerals'

The Irish Council of Churches (ICC) said only close friends and family should attend funerals during the coronavirus outbreak

AN association of funeral directors has backed guidance from the main Protestant and Orthodox churches in Ireland that funerals should be held in private during the coronavirus outbreak.

The National Association of Funeral Directors Northern Ireland Federation backed guidance from the Irish Council of Churches (ICC) around restricting mourners to close friends and family only.

Methodist minister Rev Brian Anderson, president of the ICC, said although he understood funerals were a time for people to express their condolences, people needed to be "good neighbours by keeping our distance to help contain this virus".

"Many of our member churches have now issued guidance that while government restrictions around public gatherings, and appeals for social distancing measures, remain in place, consideration should be given to funerals being private, for close family and friends only, and with no public announcement of funeral arrangements," he said.

"Formal government guidelines about public gatherings should be strictly adhered to at all times.

"As churches we are deeply conscious of the desire in local communities to come alongside those who have been bereaved, and accompany them in their grief. For the duration of the high risk posed by Covid-19 the way that we do that will have to change.

"This is to protect the most vulnerable in our society and the vital services we all rely on."

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