Viewings are allowed only at the selected funeral home and the only attendees allowed are immediate family members. (File Photo: CHRYSTALL KANYUCK-ABEL)

The Ministry of Health and Social Development has instituted new rules for burying people who have died with Covid-19. 

According to the guidelines, public viewings at churches, sanctuaries or funeral chapels are not allowed, and viewings instead will take place at the selected funeral home and only be attended by the immediate family members of the deceased, according to a Tuesday press release from the ministry. 

Family members will not be allowed to make physical contact with the deceased. 

“The protocols were designed to allow families to safely grieve while honouring their loved ones and at the same time keeping all residents of the territory safe,” the press release stated. 

Following the viewing, the body of the deceased will be transported directly to the gravesite for immediate burial,according to the ministry.Although families are free to hold memorial services after the body is buried, they must adhere to the public health measures that limit gatherings to one person per 64 square feet and must not exceed 25 people at any given time. 

At any funeral service, all safety measures must be met; all attendees must wear face masks or other protective equipment; and organisers are encouraged to record the names and contact information of all attendees to be used for possible contact tracing, the ministry noted. 

The guidelines were created in consultation with stakeholders including the Coroner’s Office, the Civil Registry, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Department of Disaster Management, and the Health Emergency Operations Centre’s Unified Command Centre, according to the release.