Only immediate family members will be allowed to view the body of loved ones who passed from COVID-19 and it can only be done while at the funeral home.

This message was relayed by the Minister for Health Carvin Malone, who updated the territory on the new protocols for all COVID-19 related burials and funerals in the BVI.

According to the minister, the decisions which were approved by Cabinet were agreed to following discussions with a number of stakeholders in the industry.

This included the Coroner’s Office, the Civil Registry, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Department of Disaster Management and the Health Emergency Operations Centre.

He said, “This guide has been developed to allow families in the time of their bereavement to safely and soundly grieve in terms of mourning for the loss of their loved ones. Please be advised that all health and safety protocols must be maintained in accordance with the COVID-19 Control and Suppression Order.”

“In terms of viewing of loved ones, only immediate family members – the mother, the father, the siblings, children, spouse – are allowed to view the deceased at this time. Viewings will only take place at the funeral home. Family members will not be allowed to make physical contact with the deceased. The body of the deceased will not be opened to public viewing at any church, sanctuary or funeral chapel. In terms of funeral services, after viewing at the funeral home by the immediate family, the body of the deceased should be taken directly to the grave site for immediate burial. Any service in memory of the deceased can be held thereafter,” Minister Malone further explained.

Limited gather for funeral services

Malone also said that gatherings for services of the deceased must not surpass the stipulated maximum of 25 persons which is still the requirement under the current curfew order.

“All gatherings including the funeral should be limited to one person per 64 square feet and should not exceed 25 persons at any given time. Persons attending funeral services or gatherings are required to observe the health and safety protocols, including the wearing of masks, sanitisation of hands and observing social distancing measures,” he stated.

Minister Malone wished all the families who have lost a loved one during this period whether through the COVID-19 virus or otherwise his condolences.

According to the latest statistics regarding COVID-19 related deaths, 23 persons in total from the BVI have passed after contracting the virus.