Coronavirus: planning a funeral

The coronavirus-related health crisis is affecting our daily lives, even in the most difficult times. In both Belgium and France, the authorities have taken measures to limit gatherings. This also applies to the organisation of funerals. Explanations.

Instructions for funerals in Belgium

Organising a funeral with a funeral home

The first contact between a family and the funeral home is only by telephone. For the selection of the coffin, a visit to the funeral home is permitted (if it is not possible to do this remotely).

A maximum of two people are allowed to go to the funeral centre to organize the funeral.

Are visits to the funeral home allowed?

Travelling for a memorial service at the funeral home is allowed, under certain conditions:

  • You need to make an appointment.
  • The memorial should last no longer than an hour.
  • The ceremony is limited to the restricted circle (close family and essential persons).
  • A maximum of 5 people are allowed to be in the same room.
  • Gestures of social distance (hand on the heart, nod) must replace hugs and handshakes.

What are the other measures concerning funeral rituals?

As a result of the federal measures taken by the Government, the Belgian funeral sector has decided that :

  • A maximum of 20 people can attend the lifting of the body (including funeral staff).
  • The farewell ceremonies should last a maximum of 45 minutes.
  • Cremations are allowed, but in the presence of a very small circle, or even without an audience for some crematoriums.
  • Coffee tables, reception rooms and funeral banqueting rooms are prohibited to avoid gatherings and the spread of the coronavirus.

Measures specific to Wallonia

Last week, the Walloon Government took new and stricter measures regarding funeral ceremonies:

  • Keeping the deceased at home is forbidden.
  • Visits to the funeral home are forbidden
  • Only a moment of meditation in a small circle (5 people) is allowed by appointment.
  • Ceremonies must take place only in a small circle and outside.

Measures specific to Flanders

Last week the Flemish government took new and stricter measures with regard to funeral ceremonies:

  • Greetings can continue but are limited in number and time. We leave a maximum of 1 person with the body at the same time. 
  • The body of your loved one may not be touched under any circumstances.
  • They also ask to limit the greeting to the partner and children of the deceased.
  • When a body is a carrier of the coronavirus, the mourning visit will not be able to take place and the deceased will be cremated or buried as soon as possible.
  • If you show any health complaints such as coughing, shortness of breath or fever, they will be denied access to the building.