CORONAVIRUS: Traditional NI funerals may be banned as ‘mourners may not be allowed to view bodies’

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Mourners may not be allowed to view the bodies of their loved ones if the Covid-19 outbreak reaches the next level, says an NI funeral director.

Northern Ireland funeral director Ian Milne said current guidelines prevent the embalming of a body which has had the Covid-19 virus.

Co Armagh based Mr Milne explained that the National Association of Funeral Directors have issued guidelines in light of government information on the disease.

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“This is to protect those involved in the embalming process,” said Mr Milne.

Funeral director Ian Milne and his son StuartFuneral director Ian Milne and his son Stuart
Funeral director Ian Milne and his son Stuart

Mr Milne said that, while not at this stage yet, if the Covid-19 does become more widespread and the government escalates to beyond the ‘containment’ level, there will be more stringent rules.

He said it could be that mourners may not be allowed to view their loved ones prior to burial or cremation.

“Currently they are not advising this yet,” said Mr Milne.

He revealed that a body of someone who has died of coronavirus may not be brought to a family home for a wake.

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“This could affect the grieving process, more so here in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK,” said Mr Milne.

“I have to emphasise this is for the protection of everyone as well as the funeral director and their staff,” he added.

These measures are only introduced for the most serious of illnesses such as Scarlet Fever.

“I appeal to the public to abide by the advice given by the Public Health Agency and the government,” he said.

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He added that he has personally introduced even more stringent safeguarding practices at his funeral homes, including sanitising door handles for example. They also have a strict policy on sanitisation for dealing with money and correspondence in order to protect staff.

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