Nfld. & Labrador

Funeral homes offering streaming services to encourage social distancing, isolation

Funeral directors will be advising people on how best to avoid the spread of COVID-19 during some of the hardest days of their lives.

Gatherings of 50 or more are prohibited under health emergency rules

Funeral homes in Newfoundland and Labrador are encouraging people to abide by recommendations around COVID-19, including limiting personal touching. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Funeral directors in Newfoundland and Labrador are being advised to take unusual steps to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in their parlours.

Bert Twyne, registrar and administrator of the provincial embalmers and funeral directors board, said his colleagues have to get mourners to fill out questionnaires before making arrangements, indicating if they have travelled outside the country recently.

They are also asking people, to the best of their knowledge, if any guests at funerals and wakes have been travelling.

When it comes to funerals and wakes, people are also encouraged to keep six feet between each other.

"A funeral is a very emotional time," Twyne said. "There's a lot of hugging and closeness there. The social distancing becomes difficult, but it's got to be [there]. The funeral professionals are encouraging this."

The St. John's area is just coming out of a situation where funerals and wakes were put on hold due to a state of emergency. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Gatherings of 50 or more people have been prohibited in the province, and those rules will have to apply for funerals and wakes as well.

Twyne said funeral homes are offering outdoor grave-side services to be safer, and some are even live-streaming funeral services online to abide by the restrictions on gatherings.

Twyne said it's a difficult time for everyone involved, and he's asking people to be patient.

"Understand the funeral provider is a professional and they are to make this situation as painless as they can," Twyne said. "We're asking them to follow all the protocols laid out by authorities and we're asking the general public to be understanding of them."

Funeral homes on the northeast Avalon are fresh off a difficult period of business during the blizzard and ensuing state of emergency in January.

With restrictions in place preventing people from being on the roads, they were forced to delay funerals and hold on to remains throughout the week-long state of emergency.

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