UNDERTAKERS have told how the relaxation of coronavirus funeral guidelines has led to widespread confusion in the industry.

Funeral directors in Sussex are making individual policies on the hoof and say the advice they have been given is “ambiguous”.

For the bereaved, this can mean widely different funerals depending on the company and cemetery they use.

The number of mourners allowed varies from venue to venue and undertakers are split on whether relatives can see their loved one’s embalmed body at a viewing.

Official guidance has changed and it is up to organisers to ensure funerals are safe. The Government said it wants to balance the needs of the bereaved to mourn appropriately with minimising the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

But funeral directors say this has led to discrepancies from one undertaker to the next and believe many people are unaware.

One Brighton funeral director said: “There’s a lot of inconsistency around what different funeral directors will provide – and the poor old public haven’t got a clue.”

Some mourners have been affected by differing restrictions on numbers in cemeteries.

An undertaker told of a funeral for a woman in her fifties where about 30 mourners turned up for the service.

“I had to turn round and say – which 12 of you are going in the chapel,” he said. “Thirteen people stepped forward. It was an awful situation”

His firm is allowing mourners to view the bodies of loved ones, but others in the county are not.

Official advice is that people should not to take part in rituals that bring them into close contact with the body.

But the Government says viewings are permitted as long as they are overseen by someone trained in handling corpses.

The undertaker described the information he has been given as “confusing and ambiguous” and called for clear guidance.

But he said he understands why this may not be possible. “The information they’re working with is inconsistent,” he said.

“We don’t know how risky a cadaver is – and that makes reaching decisions a tough one.”

Brighton’s Woodvale Crematorium said it hosts 12 people in each of its two chapels to ensure two-metre social distancing is possible. “That’s the limit because we’re following Government guidelines,” a spokesman said. Downs Crematorium said it has one chapel that accommodates 20 mourners and a smaller one that holds eight.

The latest Government guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic