On Saturday, June 13, 2020 the Government of Ontario revised their gathering restrictions for funeral services. Two days later, June 15, 2020, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO), which oversees all funeral service providers and cemeteries in the province, added additional rules and recommendations to support the government's implementation of larger gathering numbers.
Although a step in the right direction, there are still many things to be considered when arranging a funeral gathering. Below I will try to provide further clarity, to show you what current funeral gatherings can look like.
It is important to note that Max-10 (BAO) Registrar's Directive of April 7, 2020 REMAINS IN PLACE, with the new '30% indoor / 50 attendees outdoor' allowance being exemptions if - AND ONLY IF - ALL the conditions of the June 15, 2020 Registrar's Directives are met. So if you follow all the rules below, you can gather in numbers of up to 50, however, if any of the guidelines are not met, the gathering number for funerals remains at 10.
INDOOR OR OUTDOOR FUNERALS & VISITATIONS
• For indoor or outdoor funeral and visitation gatherings, the funeral director (FD) is responsible for all family and visitors, and their adherence to all current measures in government laws/restrictions and BAO Registrar’s Directives, Notices and Guidance, including those which occur in a place of worship. If a funeral director is not present, then the responsibility of this event falls to the cemetery or property owner, to make sure all guidelines are followed.
• All persons attending the gathering must remain at least two metres (six feet) apart from each other and from persons conducting the funeral unless they are members of the same household. The keyword here is household. If you don't live under the same roof, then you come from a different household.
• For every 10 people, there should be at least one funeral home staff member to monitor and ensure physical distancing of two metres.
• Funeral service providers must continue to log all family and visitors to each funeral and visitation for contact tracing purposes, in the event, this becomes needed.
• Hand sanitizer must be provided for visitors throughout funeral home facilities.
• The persons conducting the funeral or visitation (under the responsibility of the FD) must ensure that the number of persons occupying any room in the building or structure while maintaining physical distancing, does not exceed 30% of the capacity of that particular room. Therefore, each funeral home must calculate how many people can actually be accommodated, while complying with the two-metre physical distancing rule. This will likely be much less than a venue’s posted occupancy capacity. The number of people permitted includes clergy, officiants, and musicians, but does not include funeral home staff.
Examples - A room of 200 square metres (2,150 square feet) has an Ontario Building Code capacity of 190 people. However, 30% capacity and physical distancing will reduce the total number permitted to 36 people. Similarly, a 25 x 25 square foot room has a normal capacity of 60 people, but the 30% rule and physical distancing will shrink that number to 10 people.
Our gathering areas at Rhody Family Funeral Home amount to approximately 1443 sq feet. Therefore, currently for visitations, we will allow gatherings of 20 people at one time, and for funerals, we will accommodate gatherings of up to 40 people. These individuals will be spread out throughout our entire facility, following social distancing guidelines, and will be able to view and hear all services with the assistance of our audiovisual equipment.
• Wearing of masks, or face coverings, by everyone, is mandatory. This includes all staff and attendees (Paper disposable masks are sufficient. N95 masks are not necessary. People may wear their own masks or face coverings).
• The persons conducting the funeral must ensure that it is conducted in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting.
• The persons conducting the funeral must ensure that all spaces including washrooms that have been made available to persons attending the gathering are cleaned and disinfected on a continuous basis by staff dedicated to this purpose.
• The persons conducting the funeral must ensure that in the case of multiple visitation periods, attendees must wait in their cars until permitted access to the visitation. There must not be a gathering of people congregating outside of their vehicles waiting for their turn.
OUTDOOR FUNERALS & VISITATIONS
• The persons conducting the funeral and visitation must ensure that no more than 50 people are in attendance (The FD is responsible for ensuring this.) The number of people permitted includes clergy, officiants, and musicians, but does not include funeral home staff.
• All persons attending the funeral or visitation must remain at least two metres apart from each other, and from persons conducting the funeral or visitation unless they are members of the same household.
• The persons conducting the funeral or visitation must ensure that it is conducted in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting.
• The persons conducting the funeral or visitation must ensure that any washrooms that have been made available to persons attending the gathering are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary environment.
• At a cemetery, for every 10 people, there must be one funeral home staff member present to monitor physical distancing (FD is responsible).
• Cemetery operators may choose to restrict graveside services to family only, with physical distancing in place. This will continue to be supported by the BAO.
• Cemetery operators may continue to further restrict attendance, in addition to restrictions already in place by the government and the BAO, including those in this Attendance Guidance. FDs should communicate these restrictions to the families in advance of the service.
The BAO has put these additional guidelines in place to protect you and your family as well as our funeral home staff. We all want funeral services to go back to the way they were conducted pre-COVID-19. However, these revisions are now allowing families more options. As you can understand, each family's desires and requests are very unique and we will work with you to provide you with the best options and solutions given the current guidelines. These restrictions affect every funeral service provider very differently, as each facility and the current options within a community are very unique. Some churches and venues are open, whereas others remain closed. Therefore, I encourage everyone who must arrange a funeral during these trying times to educate themselves on their options, ask questions and realize that we are all working together to celebrate the lives of those we love, given these trying times.
As always, I am just a call, email, or text away should you have additional questions or concerns.
Nathan RhodySend to friend