COVID-19 FAQ: For bereavement licensees and grieving families


Note: See the BAO’s Jan. 12, 2021 post:

Registrar’s Directive: Modified Expedited Death Response Plan

Question 1. How many people can attend a funeral service?
(This includes funerals, visitations, receptions – regardless of venue including religious facilities.)

Answer 1. The maximum is 10 attendees in an entire facility at one time, not counting funeral staff, across Ontario. This applies to indoor or outdoor funeral gatherings, regardless of location or venue. Please read details below.

Separate groups of 10 attendees (not counting funeral staff) may enter a facility at one time. But “no cycling” of attendees is permitted. This means each group must enter together and leave together before the next group comes in. People can not cycle through in a line-up, the way they might in a grocery store.

In between each group (of no more than 10 in each), the facilities must be cleaned and disinfected before the next attendees enter the facility.

If some family members stay to greet, then this counts as part of the maximum of 10 attendees. For example, if four people stay to receive condolences from attendees (visitors) – then a max of six can visit and leave. But there can be no physical contact among visitors. They must follow the physical distancing requirement of at least two metres between people.  

Clergy and religious leaders — such as priests, imams, rabbis, reverends and celebrants — also count as part of the 10 maximum as they did in first wave of the pandemic.

Everyone must wear masks in the funeral establishment. Cleaning and disinfecting must take place between each group, as stated.  

Q2. How long can we continue with burials at our cemetery this year? (Or can I continue with burials past our cemetery’s bylaws scheduled closing date?)

A2. All cemeteries have been directed to continue burials as long as cemetery managers determine that ground conditions remain safe to do so. Interments are to proceed without delay to prevent storage and identification problems, and stockpiling. No cemetery bylaw change is required. A State of Emergency has been declared by the Premier of Ontario (Jan. 12, 2021).

Q3. In the event of a large visitation, can we have visitors line up outside an entrance (six feet apart, distancing) to wait their turn to enter the funeral home?

A3. No, you may not. See the answer to Question #1.

Q4. Can we have 75 people at a graveside cemetery funeral service?

A4. No, you may not. See the answer to Question #1.

Q5. How many can attend a funeral service in a church, mosque, synagogue (religious establishment)?

A5. 10 max. See the answer to Question #1. Clergy count as part of the 10 maximum attendees.

Q6. Are cemetery staff members separate from the maximum of 10 attendees at a graveside funeral service?

A6. Yes, cemetery staff are separate from the maximum of 10 attendees (mourners at a funeral service). Cemetery staff are part of the funeral service staff at the graveside and so do not count as part of the 10 maximum.

Q7. If my cemetery has a graveside funeral service with 10 attendees, can we let in five more people visiting other parts of the cemetery separate from that graveside funeral service?

A7. A maximum of 10 people can attend a funeral graveside service in a cemetery, but only to attend a funeral service. As always, cemeteries are responsible for managing their properties and can restrict numbers to fewer if they choose.  

Q8. I’ve heard of ‘Drive-Thru’ visitations. Are they allowed? If so, what are the rules for these visitations?

A8. Yes, they are allowed – with COVID-19 safety restrictions. The BAO published its restrictions in June 2020. Please read our Registrar’s Directive on Drive-Thru visitations.