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Can funerals or memorial services be held? Is there support for COVID-related funeral costs?
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
To apply, call 844-684-6333. The hotline is open Monday through Friday 9 am to 9pm.
To learn more about the program including eligibility requirements, visit FEMA's Funeral Assistance FAQ page.
Gathering Limits For Funerals
Funerals and memorial services may continue to be held and must comply with the limits on gatherings.
Indoor gatherings for religious services and celebrations, including funerals and memorial services must be limited to 50 percent of a room's capacity, but no more than 250 people so long as social distancing can be maintained.
Note: If there is no unexpected surge in COVID-19 numbers, on Wednesday, May 19, indoor religious services and celebrations may be held at 100 percent of a room's capacity, but no more than 250 individuals, so long as social distancing can be maintained.
There is no limit for outdoor gatherings for funerals, memorial services, religious activities, wedding ceremonies and receptions, or political activities.
To save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and stay home if you are sick. Face coverings are required in indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
Note: Beginning November 5, 2020, employers must adhere to new employee protection guidelines, summarized here. Detailed requirements, as well as exemptions for certain employers, can be found in Executive Order No. 192.
Safety Tips For Gatherings
To avoid putting your loved ones at risk as COVID-19 cases remain high, the NJ Department of Health has offered safety tips for in-person gatherings:
- Given the current surge in COVID-19 cases, only gather indoors with immediate household members if possible. Indoor gatherings are particularly dangerous places for the virus to spread. Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible.
- If you do host indoors, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
- The smaller the gathering is, the less likely it is that someone is infected and put loved ones at risk.
- Require guests to wear masks when not eating, whether indoors or outdoors.
- Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
- Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others outside their household.
- Make hand sanitizer available for guests.
- Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
- When hosting activities, do so with people only from your local area as much as possible. Activities with attendees traveling from different locations increase the risk of infection and spread, especially if they are coming from or traveling to a location with higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread.
- Remind invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to the virus in the last 14 days, are showing COVID-19 symptoms, or recently travelled to an area or a state with high COVID-19 infection rates.
- Limit the number of people handling or serving food—for example, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
- Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
- Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
- Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.
- Consider keeping a list of guests who attended for potential future contract tracing needs. If you are called by a contact tracer, it's critical that you answer the call to protect us all. Your help is the key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.