Life as we know it has changed with the arrival of Covid-19 and with that come some new rules for things, including funerals/tangis.

Harvey Bowler Funeral Services owner Michael Hill said that while it is time for limited ceremonies and for a rethink on certain cultural practices, all funeral directors have procedures in place to deal with death in an epidemic.

"The 24-hour service is still available but it could be that certain things will be delayed as the availability of doctors and medical referees is diminishing as they all have a rising workload. The funeral system itself has not changed."

He advises anyone with a death in the family or anyone with a terminally ill family member to contact their funeral director to ask for advice. "They can tell you what to do and help you with all paper work needed."


Hill said this is a great time to start using technology such as livestreaming of a funeral. "We also use technology to obtain the necessary documents."

"Any funeral director can sit down with you and discuss options for family gatherings. One option is deferring the ceremony to later in the year or even next year," Hill said.

One option is holding the service in the open air such as at the graveside. "Things are changing so fast now, we are changing our planning from day to day."

He said he has found that many families are distracted by Covid-19. "It is drawing people's attention away from immediate scenarios such as a funeral and can distract from rituals."

He's working at a national level with other funeral directors about issues that have arisen thanks to the current health crisis. As for funerals for people with Covid-19, he said there is no reason to worry.

"The virus will die with the body as the body temperature drops, which is what happens when someone dies, and so will any risk from the virus to others. We are prepared for dealing with such cases, but we may have to wait a bit longer than normal before proceeding.

"We have had such crises in the past, like Sars. The body of a deceased person with such a virus can successfully be sanitised and embalmed. We have precautions in place to keep our staff safe."