Auckland, March 29, 2020
The government has issued new directives that prohibit funeral gatherings throughout New Zealand as a part of the steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
A notification from the Office of Ethnic Communities said that the directive applies to all deceased persons, regardless of when and where they died, or the cause of death. It includes gatherings at burials, cremations, memorial services, open or closed caskets or viewings, funeral wakes, processions or receptions and social gatherings, both indoors and outdoors.
Protecting public health
“Our communities have had to make a number of changes to our cultural and faith practices to keep people and communities safe. This now extends to funerals and burials of our loved ones during lockdown,” the notification said.
The new rules cover Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples, Marae, private funerals at home and any other venue.
“We must protect people’s health and ensure our health system can look after all people in New Zealand who become sick. Bereaved families and whānau from all cultures and backgrounds will find this time challenging. This makes it even more important that we show each other kindness and caring, manaakitanga and aroha,” the notification said.
Guidance and suggestions
Funeral Directors, categorised under Essential Service at Alert 4 Level, will provide guidance, including the best options for each situation.
These could include livestreaming services on social media, or videos for viewing later.
“Not being able to say goodbye to a loved one, in the way we are used to, will be very challenging.
There are strict rules in place for when loved ones pass away, regardless of the cause. These rules apply to everyone, every culture, every religion,” the notification said.
“COVID-19 is now in the community and public gatherings put your family and friends at risk, especially at risk family members and our older people. The public must note that burials may happen very quickly and the ashes from cremations may not be returned until we are out of lockdown and into a recovery period. “These are tough rules which many will find hard, but we can’t risk the health and safety of our family and friends.”
These rules will remain in place, while we remain in lockdown.