Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced that effective February 1, churches will be allowed to host small funeral services.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on January 26, Mr. Holness said no more than 10 family members and five officiating Ministers should be accommodated in the church during the service.
“We are not allowing mass open-ended funerals, regardless of how large the church is. It is the same rule that is applied at the graveside that would be applied in the church,” Mr. Holness pointed out.
The Prime Minister said the decision was taken as part of efforts to allow family members to grieve.
“We decided that we would do this because there were many cases of persons who spent their lives in the church, many of them would have built their church… but when the last rites are to be administered, they cannot be brought back to the sanctuary. It is for the living that is hurting more than the dead that has departed,” Mr. Holness noted.
“The family of the departed, many of them have reached out to me. I have several letters on my desk, many of them are heart-wrenching, of families asking for exemptions and we could not give them exemptions for funeral services,” he added.
Mr. Holness informed that the measure would be in effect for one month and would be monitored.
“We will closely monitor compliance and then that will determine whether or not we extend, and obviously if we find that it is not being implemented properly or that there is a general spike, then we would have to recall that measure,” he said.
Funeral services were prohibited as part of measures to minimise the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Burials were, however, allowed with strict observation and enforcement of the 15-person rule.
Mr. Holness said the existing burial rules remain in effect.
The Prime Minister urged Jamaicans to adhere to the measures that have been implemented, noting that he has seen videos of noncompliance.
He noted that some burials have been shut down by members of the security forces for breaches of the COVID-19 guidelines.