Alert Level 2 guidance for funeral directors, and cultural and faith-based leaders

Alert Level 2 guidelines on deaths, funerals and tangihanga.

Last updated: 22 September 2021

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What happens at Alert Level 2

  • There are limits on the number of people who can attend a funeral, tangihanga, kawe/hari mate or unveiling ceremony/hura kōhatu. Restrictions apply to wherever the gathering takes place.
  • Up to 100 people can attend a funeral or tangihanga if it is held indoors.
  • Up to 100 people can attend a funeral or tangihanga if it is held outdoors.
  • Workers who are providing services in relation to a social gathering are not to be counted as part of the number limit.
  • This applies to funerals and tangihanga held at:
    • funeral homes
    • maraes
    • churches, mosques and other faith-based institutions
    • hired venues or facilities
    • private dwellings.
  • There is no specification as to where funerals or tangihanga can occur.
  • Organisers legally must record attendees to make sure contact tracing can happen if needed.
  • We recommend avoiding physical contact such as harirū, hongi, kissing and hugging except if you live with them, are whanau or are close friends. A two metre distance is required between household bubbles.
  • Indoor gatherings should be kept to two hours maximum.
  • Food and drink are permitted at funerals and tangihanga.
  • Infection control measures must be in place during the funeral or tangihanga to protect people from COVID-19.
  • Funeral directors must display an official NZ COVID Tracer QR code.
  • Funeral directors are required to keep a register of all persons who enter the funeral home for the purpose of any viewing or religious or cultural rituals which take place.
  • If a viewing is being held in a private dwelling, marae, church, community hall or mosque, there can be multiple viewings for groups of up to 100 people at any one time.
  • These limits exclude workers such as kaikōrero, kaikaranga, members of the clergy and the funeral director.

Travel for funerals or tangihanga 

Travel within Alert Level 2 (or transiting through Alert Level 3) to attend a funeral or tangihanga

If you are from an Alert Level 2 region you can travel to another region that is at Alert Level 2 to attend a funeral or tangihanga. Only permitted travel across an Alert Level 2/3 boundary is allowed. Most people are not permitted to travel. You will need to apply for an exemption to attend a funeral or tangihanga in another Alert Level area or to accompany a tūpāpaku or deceased person to a tangihanga or funeral.

Travel from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 to attend a funeral or tangihanga

This is not permitted travel. It will only be possible with an exemption from the Director-General of Health.

Travel from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3 to attend a funeral or tangihanga

This is not permitted travel. It will only be possible with an exemption from the Director-General of Health.


Who can handle the tūpāpaku (deceased)

A registered funeral director should be engaged to carry out the functions of care and preparation of the tūpāpaku (deceased). They can assist with: 

  • transportation
  • burial or cremation
  • service arrangements. 

Funeral directors are encouraged to: 

  • return to normal practice where possible if the public health guidelines are followed
  • provide opportunities for family, whānau and friends to visit the funeral home to view the body or undertake religious or cultural rituals.

The tūpāpaku (deceased) may be transported from the funeral home for viewing purposes at a private residence, church, mosque, hall, marae or other venue.

Funeral homes must have a health and safety plan

Funeral homes and other venues where funeral and tangihanga services are held must have a health and safety plan. This plan should be: 

  • updated to incorporate the guidelines for each Alert Level
  • shared with family and whānau so they are aware of any restrictions and requirements regarding the service
  • displayed so it can be easily viewed by all.

Registered funeral directors should handle deceased persons

A registered funeral director should be engaged to carry out the functions of care and preparation of the deceased and can assist with transportation, burial or cremation and service arrangements of a deceased person. Funeral directors are encouraged to return to normal practice where possible, as long as the public health guidelines are followed.

Funeral directors are encouraged to provide opportunities for family, whānau and friends to go to the funeral home to view the body or undertake religious/cultural rituals.

The deceased may be transported from the funeral home for viewing purposes at a private residence, church, mosque, hall, marae or other venue.

Funeral homes and other venues where funeral and tangihanga services are held must have a health and safety plan. This plan should be updated to incorporate the guidelines for each Alert Level. It should be shared with family and whānau who engage the services of a funeral director so they are aware of any restrictions and/or requirements in relation to the service. The health and safety plan should be displayed so it can be easily viewed by all.


Infection prevention and physical distancing

Personal hygiene and infection prevention are important to stop the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Food and drink

While food and drink are permitted at funerals and tangihanga:

  • Groupings of no more than 10 people should eat together.
  • Food should be served as individual portions and not from a buffet.
  • No alcohol may be served or consumed on the premises.

Hygiene practices

Funeral directors and any other owners of venues where funeral and tangihanga services are held, should make provision for personal hygiene, such as having hand sanitiser available. People should use this when entering the funeral home and any other premises the funeral director is using to provide their services.

Cleaning and disinfection

Frequently touched surfaces and objects on the premises should be sanitised after each viewing, religious or cultural ritual, service or event has taken place. 

Frequently touched surfaces and objects should be cleaned before and after a service or tangihanga.

Funeral directors should keep a detailed cleaning record showing what was cleaned, when it was cleaned, what it was cleaned with, and who did the cleaning.

Read more - COVID-19: General cleaning and disinfection advice

Physical distancing

Funeral directors must ensure they can maintain physical distancing at the venue. Records should also be kept to help with contact tracing. Different groups should not mingle with each other.

If you’re sick, stay at home 

People who are sick with COVID-19, cold or flu symptoms should not attend:

  • funerals or tangihanga
  • a viewing
  • religious or cultural rituals
  • a service or burial.

Making funeral arrangements 

When making funeral arrangements with family and whānau, funeral directors should:

  • Continue to do this by telephone, video conferencing or other forms of electronic communication, where possible.
  • Hold face to face meetings in the funeral home (if other means are not possible) and follow personal hygiene processes. 

If family or whānau wish to hold a viewing, religious or cultural ritual, or service for the deceased at another venue such as a marae, church, community hall, mosque or the like, responsibility for maintaining health guidelines lies with the owners or operators of those facilities.


Contact tracing funeral attendees

Funeral directors are responsible to have systems and processes in place to enable contact tracing. It is mandatory for funeral directors to display an official NZ Covid 19 Tracer App QR code.

Contact tracing is an important element of our response to COVID-19. As well as displaying a QR code, you must have a contact tracing register to record the details of all persons attending any part of the funeral process. This register should include:

  • the exact day and time the event took place
  • full names of all attending the event
  • one method of contact (for example, an email address or mobile phone number).

If funeral directors or venue owners keep contact tracing records, they should be kept secure for two months. Once they are two months old, they should be destroyed. The information in the register must only be: 

  • used for the purpose of contact tracing
  • shared with the Ministry of Health or district health boards, should this be required. 

Attendees should not have access to anyone else’s personal information.

Read more information about getting your official QR code.

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