Coronavirus (COVID-19) Message to Funeral and Cemetery Professionals Regarding Executive Order No. 30UPDATE: April 30, 2020
As you are aware, we all find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances, coming together to ensure the health and safety of our families, neighbors, and communities as we continue to battle the spread of COVID-19. There is a collective need for the funeral and cemetery profession to take steps to keep families, guests, staff, and others safe to enable families to participate in memorial events that are of utmost importance to them.
In response to public health concerns, Governor Bill Lee has issued several executive orders to contain the spread of COVID-19, including, on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, issuing Executive Order No. 30, which allows many Tennesseans to return to work safely while encouraging adherence to health and business operation guidelines. The Order prohibits social gatherings of ten (10) or more people, but expressly states that religious services, rites, funerals and related gatherings are not “social” and thus are not categorically prohibited. This includes memorial events and burial of deceased humans, whether held at a funeral establishment, church, cemetery, or other facility.
While not prohibited as a matter of law, the Governor’s Order strongly encourages that the public celebration component of funerals be postponed or attended only by close family members, and further urges adherence to the Centers for Disease Control health guidelines to the greatest extent practicable, including social distancing, wearing facemasks, and frequent handwashing. Vulnerable populations should take particular precaution, including staying at home as much as practicable, and those who are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and contact their health care provider or county health department to receive a COVID-19 test, as appropriate. Governor Lee’s Economic Recovery Group has also issued general business guidelines to promote the safety of employees, customers, and guests, which may be found here. We encourage you to follow these guidelines where applicable to your operations.
It is the civic responsibility of all persons and businesses to protect themselves, their customers, and their communities by following health guidelines, so please seek out and implement alternative and innovative business practices to address health issues during this disruption. In hearing from funeral and cemetery professionals, we have been made aware of great concepts and thoughtful ways to serve families. We, as funeral service professionals, have an obligation and duty to provide meaningful funeral services to those families who have lost a loved one, while continuing to ensure the health and safety of our communities.
Finally, please continue checking these resources for information and updates related to COVID-19:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC
- Tennessee Office of the Governor
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - EPA