'Undertakers have carried caskets from the hearse to the graveside in full PPE'
The funeral services industry is calling on the government to draw up definitive guidelines on what acceptable procedures are during funerals held under the current national lockdown.
According to the Disaster Management Act, under the current adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations, the number of attendees at a funeral is capped at 50.
Additionally, there needs to be social distancing, and hand sanitizing and mask-wearing is mandatory.
But Dr Lawrence Konyana from the Funeral Federation Of SA says more clarity is needed and adds that the industry has been calling for more thorough guidelines from government since the first wave of the pandemic.
We were made to understand that each municipality would make its rules according to the situation as it sees fit.Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA
That's one of the biggest problems because each municipality's got its own rules.Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA
Host Lester Kiewit shared his own experiences of having attended several funerals during the national lockdown.
He says at each one, the procedures were different:
There have been times when undertakers have carried caskets from the hearse to the graveside in full PPE.Lester Kiewit, Host - CapeTalk
There's times when the families themselves have done it, and there are times when they've not been allowed to.Lester Kiewit, Host - CapeTalk
There seems to be incongruency about what is allowed and what is not allowed.Lester Kiewit, Host - CapeTalk
Addressing the lack of uniformity between municipalities, Dr Konyana says up to now the industry has taken their cue from the authorities.
Some municipalities impose that the people who carry the coffin are the undertakers in full PPE.Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA
That then meant most families refused to disclose because it carried with it a stigma.Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA
If a body is sealed in a body bag, and the coffin is sealed properly and sanitized, it should be quite safe enough for the family to carry the coffin.Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA
During his address to the nation on Monday President Cyril Ramaphosa said funerals had become a death trap for many South Africans adding that they have " consistently been identified as so-called ‘super spreader’ moments."
Ramaphosa admitted that "providing a fitting send-off for a departed loved one is deeply ingrained in all of us", but said that performing certain rituals are not possible at this time.
" All these activities that would normally take place are just increasing our exposure to risk – for ourselves, for the bereaved family and for our own families at home...for now, it is best and safer to stay at home."
President #Ramaphosa: Given the risk of widespread transmission, most indoor and outdoor gatherings will not be permitted. This includes social gatherings, religious gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds. pic.twitter.com/nI4cV1vY5e— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) January 11, 2021
Listen to the full podcast of this interview by clicking below:
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