Central England Co-op Funeralcare has welcomed news that Church of England buildings can start to re-open for services from next week.
The provider, which operates over 130 funeral homes across 16 counties, has backed the decision for a phased reopening at places of worship (from 15 June) such as churches and cathedrals.
However, members of the public have been advised that the guidance is ‘permissive and not prescriptive’ and urged to speak to their churches, vicars and funeral directors to understand plans on a local level.
People are also reminded that, at this moment, social distancing measures remain in place at all services and restricted to immediate family only which includes partners, parents, children, siblings and grandchildren.
It is hoped that this easing of restrictions will help families who have lost a loved one celebrate their life in a way that is closer to what they would have hoped pre-lockdown.
Hazel Moss, head of funeral, said: “As a Society, we will continue to work with the guidelines issued and operate in a Covid-19 secure environment. We welcome the decision by the Church of England and understand that for many families the potential of saying goodbye to a loved one in a church will make a huge difference in a difficult time.
“We will be working closely with our local churches to establish how they will react to this news and ensure that all our families are aware of how this applies to them and allow us to use our expertise to support them saying goodbye in the way they want.”
Preparations are also being made ahead of any potential further alterations to the way funerals are planned and services are held in the coming weeks.
This includes ensuring extra social distancing measures are being put in place at funeral homes to keep colleagues and clients safe such as hand sanitising stations and continued innovation with the use of phone and email to help families plan the funeral of a loved one while also still being able to see people in person via an appointment.
The news comes as Central England Co-op announced it is to host its first online members meeting to update members on efforts to support local communities impacted by the coronavirus.
Normally, 12 meetings are held in April in venues across its trading estate spanning from Birmingham to Norfolk to update members and provide them with the chance to ask questions of the board and executive team.