No limits on mourner numbers as lockdown rules ease in England on May 17
Friends and families will be able to mourn their loved ones again as the legal limit on funeral numbers will be scrapped earlier than planned.
The 30-person cap was meant to remain in place as England enters step 3 of the roadmap but now it will be removed altogether.
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes from no earlier than May 17.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The British people have made huge sacrifices throughout the pandemic to protect the NHS and save lives, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the deeply painful restrictions on the numbers attending funerals.
“Losing a loved one has been incredibly hard during the pandemic and I am pleased we are now in a position, thanks to everyone’s continued efforts and the rollout of the vaccine, to remove these limits and allow more friends and family to come together and pay their respects.
“I look forward to working with faith leaders responsible for places of worship, and those who manage venues such as funeral homes, to introduce the new arrangements in a way that continues to keep people safe.”
The move was welcomed by the National Association of Funeral Directors’ (NAFD) chief executive Jon Levett, who said: “Throughout the pandemic the Government has made sure immediate families were able to be there to say goodbye to a loved one and this has always been valued.
“But it’s critical that all those who are grieving are not forgotten in the reopening of society – and for many families, the current restrictions have meant telling people very close to the person that has died that they simply couldn’t be there.
“We’d still also like to see the Government move forward with its plan to trust the public to make informed, personal decisions about social contact – using testing as a safety mechanism – enabling us all to offer the simple comfort of holding hands, or giving a much-needed hug, to those who are isolated in their grief.”
Most social contact rules outside will also be lifted, although gatherings of more than 30 people will remain illegal.
Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply, although the Government has said it will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.
Limited crowds will also be allowed at sporting events and foreign holidays could be permitted for people living in England.
All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from June 21, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.
Indoor hospitality service will also resume from 17 May under step three of the roadmap, which will see patrons drink and dine at a table inside.