Grieving families are having to postpone memorial services and send off their loved one without even a small funeral.

"There will be no grieving, no embalming, no gathering around a body. I don't know any way around that with the current Government regulations," says Twentyman's managing director Adrian Catran, who has chapels in Thames and a viewing room in Whangamatā and Whitianga.

"Our doors are closed and we shouldn't be in lockdown but we are."

Pressure is hitting funeral directors in other ways as the Covid-19 pandemic leaves them unable to obtain masks and sanitiser for coronial work.

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Adrian is chairman of the New Zealand Independent Funeral Homes Inc which represents 20 funeral homes in New Zealand not owned by overseas companies.

"We can't buy masks, we can't buy sanitising spray so we can do our coronial work."
Twentyman's are coronial contractors, including for anyone who dies from Covid-19.

There have been no deaths in New Zealand as yet from Covid-19.

Personal protection equipment (PPE) included full hazmat suits, glasses and gloves as a precaution when handling known Covid-19 cases.

Mr Catran said he believed it was wrong for the Government to allow people to go to public settings like a supermarket but not gather in small numbers when grieving a death.

After the Government prevented the hosting of events of more than 100 people, Twentyman's was preparing to host online funerals and cremations which would be broadcast. This would allow a small family group to attend and others to still celebrate the life of a recently deceased by watching the service online. The self-isolation regulations had put an end to funerals, with consequences for grieving families.

"We are an essential industry. But it means you can't even have a gathering of 10 people.
They've forgotten about us, we're the lost tribe."

He says it was a difficult situation for funeral directors.

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"Because our industry prides itself on never saying no."

Some funeral directors were removing seats from their chapels to ensure distance between only a small number of mourning family members.

Twentyman's is undertaking cremations and burials but postponing any memorial to a later date. He was discouraging people from arriving in a group of more than two at the

Twentyman's chapel to make burial and cremation arrangements.

"We at Twentyman's are organising cremations with families but we ask them to phone first. The family does not need to come in to the chapel but can use the telephone and other online tools for communicating their wishes with us. It only takes one or two people to come in and see us to make arrangements."

Adhering to physical distancing rules is one of the most important things to protect people.

- Funeral directors are operating but you must phone first, Twentyman's is Whangamata Ph 07 865 6884/Thames Ph 07 868 6003.