New Zealand Funeral directors consider the government’s change of heart a big win for the community who can now have 50 guests in attendance at a funeral service.
When the New Zealand government announced it would be entering alert level 2, which would only allow gatherings for groups of 10 people max, including funerals and tangi (Māori funeral ceremony), there was a public outcry.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the cabinet found funerals the most difficult when it came to restricting numbers, but the reason for capping gatherings at 10 was to make it easier to conduct contact tracing should an outbreak occur. Since funerals have been traced to bringing contagion into communities around the world.
The New Zealand death care industry understood the government’s concern, but felt the number was unfair to the families who are suffering and immediately reached out to discuss. Eventually the groups were able to come to an agreement and the government announced that funeral services and tangi will now be able to have up to 50 guests in attendance. The service providers must enforce physical distancing, hand hygiene, and no celebration with food and drink afterwards is allowed.
Dr. David Clark, spoke on behalf of the government saying: “We’ve always said from the outset that we want to manage this risk. The sector has stepped up, and they’ve said that they can manage the situation adequately with the appropriate public health measures in place.”
Shann Longley from Terry Longley and Son Funeral Services told Kate Hawkesby they’re grateful for the chance to make things right.
“We have to get it right, not just for the funeral industry but for the country as a whole.”