By Sheyla Torres
With Covid-19 cases rising in New York, it is vital to be aware of restrictions for certain gatherings. Funerals are one of the events that require caution and guidelines for everyone present to ensure safe services. Reopening New York State guidelines are still enforcing social distancing at funerals. It is advised that individuals be 6 feet apart at all times.
The guidelines also advise limiting physical touch among attendees, which includes hugging, shaking hands, or kissing. Attendance itself should also be limited to immediate family. Staff and workers should follow the guidelines as well. According to the guidelines for religious and funeral services, it is mandatory to have no more than 50% maximum congregant/attendee capacity for the area.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Twitter, “I share New Yorkers’ frustration that we are not past this pandemic. But the winter surge is here & we must take action.” She continued the tweet introducing the new requirement: Masks must be worn in all indoor public places, unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.
The guideline also mentions that objects and activities used in the service should be restricted: This includes religious texts, singing, and podiums. The guideline also enforces disinfecting and cleaning of all areas and encouragement of disinfecting products such as hand sanitizer.
Some funeral homes have special guidelines as well put in place for a pandemic, with a separate capacity of how many people can attend. Some funeral homes also have live-streaming video conferencing or other options for people to attend remotely.
Prevention tips are also advised. Wearing masks — or several masks, especially if unvaccinated — is advised. Getting tested after the funeral services or any gathering of larger groups is recommended in order to stop the spread and know if quarantine is necessary.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidelines as well for funeral home workers. Funeral homes conducting services for someone who has passed away from Covid-19 should use Personal Protective Equipment and the correct disinfecting protocols. There are no restrictions, however, for embalming, cremating, or burying someone who has passed away from Covid-19. Attendees are advised to reach out to the funeral home and find out other policies they may have.
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