Funeral directors reeling as services restricted to 10 under alert level 2

coronavirus 12/05/2020

Saying goodbye to a loved one isn't expected to get any easier under alert level 2 restrictions.

The Funeral Directors Association is reeling at the news services will still be restricted to just 10 people.

President Gary Taylor says his industry is not being taken seriously.

"Shocked and disappointed I think are how we feel," Taylor told The AM Show on Tuesday.

"We work with the Government - the all of Government pandemic response team that they've had dealing with funerals - and we've agreed [to] various things on the different levels and all of which have been restrictive, all of which have been restrictive and we've understood why.

"Now we're left with this inconsistent and ludicrous situation where you can go to a supermarket and be with 60 other people, I can invite 10 people to a restaurant - but I can only have 10 at mum or dad's funeral."

Announcing level 2 restrictions would commence on Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the reason for capping gatherings at 10 was to make it easier to conduct contact tracing should an outbreak occur.

"[It's] much less likely that, if something goes wrong, the whole country will have to experience more restrictions," Ardern told reporters on Monday.

But Taylor feels the industry has been looked upon as a "small and insignificant" group.

"Between this lockdown period we're likely to have had between 6000 and 7000 families affected by restrictions," he said.

Taylor said the rules need to change.

"This is probably the single-most emotional event in anybody's life - the death and loss of a loved one - and we need to make sure we are dealing with that in an appropriate way, and that is gathering at a funeral."

Ardern said her Cabinet found funerals the most difficult area when it came to restricting numbers.

"Ultimately, in people's time of grief, you want them to be well supported," she told The AM Show. "You want them to be able to mourn with the people that they're closest to.

"At a supermarket - you don't go there to be in contact with other supermarket shoppers. At a funeral - the very point of a funeral is to comfort one another [and] to grieve together and that's why you see that consistency of treatment between, for instance, a wedding and funerals because those are times when we come together to be together closely."

Asked by host Duncan Garner if numbers could be larger should they be managed, Ardern said, "Equally of course though, they're asking people that they must stay physically separated - that they can't have physical contact with one another. The whole point of funerals is that's what you're there to do.

"Keep in mind - we hope this won't be long."