A message from the Bereavement Authority of Ontario to the clergy (incumbents/priests-in-charge, assistant curates and deacons) of the Diocese of Ontario. A directive from the registrar to funeral homes throughout the civil province effective May 29, 2020.

Registrar’s Directive:
Organized groupings of visitors
at funerals and visitations

May 26, 2020
I am issuing a Registrar’s Directive mandating
organized and scheduled groupings of people at visitations (meaning by appointment) and funerals in order to further ensure safety of families and licensees.
This Registrar’s Directive puts an end to the cycling of people through funeral homes (trading-off or substituting individuals) for funerals and visitations.
People waiting outside funeral homes, gathering closely, hugging, and cycling through funeral homes is threatening to spread the virus among mourners and funeral home staff.
This directive is effective starting 12:01 am., May 29, 2020.

This directive allows:

  • Funeral homes to offer a funeral and several scheduled visitations for each decedent’s family.
  • Guests to wait in their vehicle and family members, who live together, to wait in a vehicle together for their appointment time.

 This directive mandates:

  • Separate groupings of visitors, rather than the cycling of people through funeral homes, as we’ve seen.
  • Scheduled, organized grouping of visitors in gatherings of 10 or fewer people, not counting funeral home staff. *Note that all those, other than funeral home staff, who remain in the funeral home for each grouping will count against the maximum number of 10.

An accurate visitors' appointment schedule, logging each set of visitors, with the time written in for each scheduled grouping of 10 people or fewer in the funeral home at one time. You must have a method of disinfecting pens between each visitor or choose to sign the book for each visitor.

  • Disinfecting cleaning of the funeral home (especially washrooms if used, all surfaces) before each new grouping of people.
  • A minimum of a 15-minute waiting period between each grouping, to enable funeral home staff to disinfect and clean the establishment before the next group enters.
  • The wearing of a mask by everyone in the funeral home during funerals and visitations is recommended. (Surgical or non-medical masks permitted.)

This directive prohibits:

  • The gathering of people outside of funeral homes waiting to enter, except for scheduled guests waiting in a vehicle.
  • The cycling or “trading-off” of people through funeral homes for visitations and funerals. 
  • Gatherings of more than 10 people, not counting funeral home staff (as previously directed). 

What has changed:

  • This Registrar’s Directive prescribes how multiple groupings of visitors for a decedent are to be separated and scheduled.
  • People gathering in funeral home parking lots, outside of their cars, is prohibited. Every effort needs to be made to keep people inside their cars coming to and from visitation or services. You are responsible for the conduct of people on your property.

What has not changed:

  • All Registrar’s Directives, notices, guidance and provincial government restrictions remain in place.
  • The 10-max directive. Keep in mind that the maximum number of people in each grouping, not counting funeral home staff, is 10. This means that family members who remain in the funeral home count against the maximum number of 10. For example, if a widow, daughter and son remain in the funeral home to greet people, then only seven new visitors may enter in the next scheduled grouping.The 10-max directive.
  • Two metres (six feet) physical distancing between each person.Two metres (six feet) physical distancing
  • Notices and Obituaries must inform the reader of attendance restrictions on funerals and visitations.

- Carey Smith, CEO/Registrar, BAO