Bereaved families could be asked to foot the bill for any fines if a funeral service is in breach of coronavirus restrictions, it has been reported.
The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) has told the BBC it is considering suggesting to its members that they ask families in some areas to guarantee to pay the cost of any potential fines.
The NAFD reportedly added an alternative option could be to arrange funerals with no family members in attendance.
It comes a week after a funeral director from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, was fined £10,000 for holding a service in breach of coronavirus restrictions.
Under England’s lockdown rules, only 30 people are allowed to attend a funeral. However Hertfordshire Police said a service held in Welwyn Garden City on Thursday, January 21 had close to 150 people in attendance.
Superintendent Nick Caveney said: “We have issued a £10,000 fine to a funeral director from Mansfield for not managing this event correctly and advising their clients of the rules.
“This was a clear and blatant breach of the current restrictions, which are necessary in order to protect the NHS and help save lives.
“We implore all business owners to ensure that they are following the restrictions safely and responsibly.”
Thank you to @BarrySheerman for tabling a question seeking clarification on the steps #funeral directors must take, in addition to following our guidance, to remain compliant with the law on gatherings. https://t.co/HHHtpI5aVu— NAFD UK (@NAFD_UK) January 29, 2021
Approach “seriously wrong”
In a statement to the BBC, the NAFD said: “Most police forces are being sensible about how they enforce restrictions, but some … have got their approach seriously wrong.
“UK funeral directors are critical workers and, in the main, small businesses.
“Forcing them to risk a £10,000 fine for every funeral they are doing to support the nation through the pandemic is utterly ridiculous and could lead to some of them closing down.”
The NAFD’s lawyers have reportedly challenged the fine and sought clarity on the funeral director’s level of responsibility.
The Cabinet Office told the broadcaster it has provided detailed guidance to the industry, adding it is a “legal requirement and therefore, the responsibility” of the funeral or venue manager to take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of Covid-19, including ensuring services adhere to limits on capacity.