Muslim funerals and burials (COVID-19)
The following changes to the death registration process are now in effect and will differ from the information provided to you in the “What to do After Death – A Practical Guide for Muslims” booklet.
The changes below to standard procedure have come from “Guidance for care of the deceased with suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19)” and “Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for funerals and commemorative events during the coronavirus pandemic” published by Public Health England and by directives from the General Register Office.
This guidance was updated on 21/07/2021. As further official information about Covid-19 is confirmed this guidance may be changed accordingly.
Contacting the Funeral Director
You should still contact the Funeral Director as soon as possible about the death and burial so they can start preparations and timetable you into their schedule. Inform them you are looking for a short notice burial according to Islamic tradition and in the Muslim section of the cemetery.
Contacting Your Local Mosque
- Your local mosque may be used for the funeral service.
- It is advisable that those attending continue to wear face coverings in enclosed, crowded spaces and to check in using the QR code displayed at the Mosque. You may also choose to take a free lateral flow test to help manage the risk of close contact.
- You may also wish to contact your local mosque so that arrangements can be made for an imam to attend the funeral at the cemetery.
Changes to the Death Registration Process
- The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD), which would previously have been given to you in a sealed envelope, will now be scanned and sent electronically from either the GP, Bereavement Centre or Coroner’s Office directly to the Register Office. This will include contact details for the next of kin.
- The Registrar’s Office will then contact the next of kin to arrange a telephone only appointment to register the death. You will be given the opportunity to order and pay for any death certificates required. Certificates cost £11.00 each. These will be posted to you following completion of the registration.
- All death registrations will now take place over the phone. You will not be required to attend the Register Office in person as this is now closed to the public.
- After the death registration appointment has been completed the Registrar will send the Green Form 9 electronically to the Crematorium and notify the hospital mortuary as appropriate. This will allow the body to be released for burial.
If you need to arrange a burial before registering a death
- Within working hours please contact the Register Office on 01709 823542 (option 2)
- The on-call Registrar for the out of hours burial service can be contacted on 07748142634, 07717456795, 07557312859 or 07584217127 on Saturdays or Sundays between the hours of 9am and 1pm. The service is available on both May Day and May Spring Bank Holiday.
Performing the Ghusl
- Guidance will be given by your faith leader and Funeral Director on how and where this will take place if required.
- Where it is not possible to determine if COVID-19 was suspected or confirmed at the time of death, you are not advised to take part in rituals or practices that bring you in close contact with the deceased. There is likely to be a continuing risk of infection from body fluids and tissues where COVID-19 infection is suspected or confirmed.
- If aspects of faith or beliefs include close contact with the deceased, you should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) under the supervision of someone who is trained in the appropriate use of PPE and follow the guidance on care of the deceased. Your faith leader and Funeral Director will give guidance on who has been given this training.
- HSE guidance "Managing infection risks when handling the deceased
- PPE guidance from The Royal College of Pathologists
- Guidance for the donning and doffing of PPE equipment
- Because of the increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness, it is not advisable for people who may be clinically extremely vulnerable to have any contact at all with the body of the deceased, regardless of whether PPE is worn.
Muslim Cemetery Protocols and Procedures
Please follow these protocols and procedures to ensure a consistent approach is used throughout. This will ensure all requirements are met sympathetically and protect religious rights, beliefs and most importantly keep everyone safe.
- 1 close family member must be chosen as a point of contact between the council and the Funeral Director throughout the process.
- If close family members are in self-isolation, then someone from their extended family can be chosen as their representative.
How many people can attend the Cemetery?
- Restrictions on numbers have now been lifted within the cemetery.
- It is advisable that those attending continue to wear face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces. You may also choose to take a free lateral flow test to help manage the risk of close contact.
- Health and safety measures will remain in place to continue to protect visitors and staff, including: Sanitisation of chapels and public areas, Hand sanitising stations will remain available, and staff will continue to wear face coverings.
Who can attend the Cemetery?
- 1 Imam to lead the religious rites (appointed by the family/Masjid).
- Funeral Director.
- Attendance of a celebrant of choice, should the bereaved request this.
Backfilling of the Grave:
- Once the body is lowered into the grave, the mourners may perform the backfilling of the grave.
- The grounds staff can carry out the backfilling of the grave with machinery if requested. The mourners are requested to stand back while this is taking place.
- Once backfilling is complete the family can shape the grave and conclude the final religious rites.
- Staff will sanitise all equipment used during this process.
Mourners who are travelling to England from abroad:
- You are required to quarantine for 10 full days after recently arriving into England from an amber list country.
- This does not apply if you have been fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK more than 14 days ago, or if you are participating in the test to release scheme.
- You are also required to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 full days if you have been in a red list country.
- Some people have a limited legal exemption to leave self-isolation or quarantine following international travel to England, in order to attend a funeral. This exemption does not apply to attending a commemorative event.
- For details of these legal exemptions and guidance on how to safely attend please see the full guidance document.
- Even if a legal exemption from self-isolation or quarantine applies to you for the purpose of attending a funeral, you are strongly advised to consider arrangements to participate remotely, for example through video link, in order to avoid attending in person. This will help reduce the risk to others present at the funeral and will play a direct role in stopping the spread of the virus.
Mourners who have COVID-19 symptoms, are self-isolating, or are in quarantine:
While there are some exemptions, due to the risk you may pose to others, you should not attend if any of the below apply:
- you have COVID-19 symptoms
- you are self-isolating due to a positive test result
- you have been instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- you are in quarantine after recently arriving into England from an amber list country. This does not apply if you have been fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK more than 14 days ago
- you are in a managed quarantine hotel after arriving into England from a red list country
Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate immediately, follow the stay at home guidance, and get a PCR test, even if your symptoms are mild. You should self-isolate at home while you book the test and wait for the results. You are legally required to self-isolate if you test positive.
Some individuals may have a legal exemption to leave self-isolation, or quarantine following recent international travel, in order to attend a funeral. These do not apply to attending a commemorative event.
Mourners who are extremely clinically vulnerable
Mourners who are in an extremely clinically vulnerable group should be facilitated to attend, should they wish to do so.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to follow the same guidance as everyone else. However, if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you may wish to think carefully about the particular risks associated with attending a funeral, and consider taking precautions
Actions to reduce their risk of infection could include:
- Follow the guidance in guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.
- try and enable them to participate remotely where this is possible (for example by live streaming), should they wish to do so
- consider reminding other attendees that there are individuals who may choose or need to maintain distancing. It is important that you don’t identify anyone, single anyone out, or release personal or confidential information
Consider limiting close contact:
From 19th July, social distancing measures will no longer apply, and you do not need to stay 2 metres apart (or 1 metre plus mitigations) at a funeral or commemorative event. However, limiting close contact reduces the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.
Given the exemption for some people to leave self-isolation or quarantine to attend funerals, you may choose to limit the close contact you have with people you do not live with. You may also choose to take a free lateral flow test to help manage the risk of close contact.
It is important to consider that others may wish to take a more cautious approach and we should all be considerate of this and provide the opportunity and space for others to reduce close contacts if they wish.
Although not required to do so by law, the government expects and recommends that face coverings are worn in crowded areas. You should respect other attendees and staff who may wish to adopt a more cautious approach.
Support following a Bereavement:
A support service was launched in April 2020 that provides access to free, confidential support during the Coronavirus Pandemic for those who have lost a loved one and those who need support, guidance and advice. This service is called Listening Ear.
Who can refer you/others to the Listening Ear service?
- Primary Care Staff
- Hospital bereavement services staff
- Mortuary staff
- Funeral directors
- Coroner’s office
- Crematorium and bereavement services staff
- Community and Faith organisations
For meaningful support, advice and guidance call freephone 0800 048 5224 or visit Listening-ear
Available Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm
To support mental health and wellbeing a new service called RotherHive has been launched online. RotherHive provides a range of verified practical mental health and wellbeing information, support and advice for adults in Rotherham which includes bereavement support.
Tell Us Once Service
When you register the death the registration officer will ‘capture’ the information and issue you with an access code to use the Tell Us Once service provided by the Department for Work and Pensions in order for you to notify central and local government agencies about the death of your loved one.
You will be asked for specific information to cancel things like a passport or driving licence as well as the National Insurance number of the person who has died. Tell Us Once can notify:
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – to deal with tax and cancel benefits, for example, tax credits and personal tax
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) - to cancel benefits or entitlements, for example, State Pension, Universal Credit or Income Support
- Her Majesty’s Passport Office – to cancel a British passport (you’ll need the passport number and town of birth)
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) - to cancel a driving licence (you’ll need the licence number) and remove the person as the keeper of up to 5 vehicles (you'll need the vehicle(s) registration) Road tax is not transferable - You must re-tax the vehicle(s) before being driven
- the local council – to update records, cancel services or benefits, for example Blue Badge or Housing Benefit
- public sector or armed forces pension schemes – to stop pension payments (you’ll need their National Insurance number)
You'll also need the name, address, telephone number and their permission before giving the details of:
- the surviving spouse or civil partner, along with their National Insurance number and/or date of birth
- next of kin (closest relative by blood or marriage)
- the person or company dealing with the deceased’s estate/affairs (property, belongings and money)
We know that this will be a difficult time for you and others. For bereavement and loneliness support Gov.uk and the organisations below can give you help and advice:
- Cruse Bereavement Care or call 0808 808 1677 in England/Wales. Cruse Scotland or call 0845 600 2227
- The Silver Line or call 0800 470 8090 for 24-hour confidential advice for older people
- Government guidance about what to do after someone dies