Coronavirus has impacted the ways funerals are held, with Tipene Funerals revealing it has had to make drastic changes to funeral services.

Taking to social media, Francis and Kaiora Tipene, who starred on the television show The Casketeers, announced new rules would be in place at their Henderson and Onehunga branches.

Francis said they wanted to find a balance between keeping mourners safe and respecting the wishes of family and friends.

"Just in light of the situation with the Covid-19 coronavirus, we felt it was important to address issues around protocols when entering our funeral branches in Henderson and Onehunga and how to go about going about what we need to do without offending anyone and making sure everyone's health is still intact," he said.

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The Tipenes have asked for mourners to not engage in close physical contact with one another.

The coronavirus has impacted the ways funerals are held, with Tipene Funerals revealing they have had to make drastic changes to funeral services.
The coronavirus has impacted the ways funerals are held, with Tipene Funerals revealing they have had to make drastic changes to funeral services.

"What we have come up with is no kissing one another, no hugging. We are asking people not to hongi as you enter into the whare, and no handshaking. It is difficult for us to do this.

"We are very strong. We are practitioners. It's not we are being offensive, please don't take it that way, but it's for the safety of you and your whanau, and us kaimahi (employees) at Tipene Funerals."

The company also revealed services will be restricted to 70 people or less and have asked attendees to acknowledge each other through hand gestures.

"When you come into the funeral home for funeral arrangements with your whanau we ask that you use the praying hands or the hand over heart to acknowledge one another.

"That's how we will acknowledge you now.

"We won't be holding big gatherings at the funeral home; just small whanau, less than 70 people. We don't want to offend anyone. Because it's so hard in these trying times to say it especially during the death of someone you love.

"We want to look after the safety of us all until we nip this virus in the bud and prevent its spread."

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There are currently eight confirmed coronavirus cases in New Zealand, two of which are from overseas travellers.

Despite Tipene Funerals' disruptive measures, many members of the public have praised the company for being open and honest about the new rules.

"You have to do what you have to do in these circumstances. I'm sure everyone will understand. Stay safe," one wrote.

Another said: "I do like the 'praying hands'. I also suggest each person entering either washes hands or uses hand sanitizer and before people leave. This will increase cleanliness."

"Thank you for sharing I love the karakia hands and the hand over the heart gestures," a third added.

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Within the next month, Ardern said there were 107 events with more than 1000 attendees expected to take place in New Zealand's major centres but the Government had to protect the public from Covid-19.

"To slow the spread and reduce the number of people infected ... Cabinet agreed that gatherings of 500 or more people held outdoors or indoors should be cancelled."

This applied to non-essential events including sporting and religious events, but excluded school or university events.

Today's announcement would give certainty to event organisers, but further guidance on public gatherings would be announced later in the week, she said.

"Ultimately I know this decision is hugely disappointing. I know it will have an impact on a number of communities ... but we are making this decision in the best interest of New Zealanders."

The Government was not shutting schools or universities because "that is not where New Zealand is at".

Ardern said there was no plan at this stage to cancel any school holidays.