France lifts its limit of 20 mourners at funerals

France lifts its limit of 20 mourners at funerals
Photo: AFP
The French government has scrapped the limit of 20 participants who can attend a funeral, a measure introduced during the lockdown as the country fought to contain its Covid-19 transmission rate.

Since June 1st, there is no longer a limit on the number of attendees at funeral services carried out in France, religious or otherwise, as Macron’s government has decided that the current ban on gatherings of more than 10 people should not apply to these events. 

The lifting applies to crematoriums and funeral homes, as well as other religious establishments; and funeral ceremonies organised outside of these premises which are open to the public.

Participants must however respect the safety rules currently in place, maintain a physical distance of at least one metre between other attendees and wear a face mask at all times.

READ ALSO The 9 lockdown rules still in place in France

A cautionary tale from Dordogne highlights the importance of this, as in May a coronavirus cluster was centred around a funeral where dozens of people turned up at the wake.

Crematoriums and funeral homes have the right to limit the number of people who are allowed to enter their premises all at once, if the size or configuration of their establishment doesn’t allow for proper social distancing.

At the height of the pandemic, French families were forced to stay away from their loved ones' funerals by the country’s strict lockdown rules, leading undertakers to set up live video links for grieving families.

Funerals were the exception to the 10-person rule during the initial stages of lockdown easing in May, as they were allowed a maximum of 20 people at each service.

The after-funeral wake counted and still counts as a social gathering, but if it is in a private home there is no upper limit on guest numbers.

Cemeteries in France have been open to the public since May 11th when the country’s lockdown de-escalation began.

Social distancing and face masks are also necessary at cemeteries but there are no attendance limits as in the case of funerals, although local authorities do have the freedom to restrict access and set their own opening hours.

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