FUNERALS are currently barred in churches across Taunton Deane - and can only take place in the churchyard.

And a number of restrictions are in place at Taunton Deane Crematorium, with a maximum of 25 people permitted to attend at any time to ensure social distancing.

There are also important rules on registering deaths, which independent funeral director Quantock Funeral Services has shared with us.

Here are the guidelines to help you understand how funerals are being conducted and the new process in place for registering a death in Somerset.

Gatherings at Taunton Deane Crematorium should be restricted to immediate family, with the number of mourners kept to a minimum and not exceeding 25.

The crematorium is offering free webcasts of the service to help people who cannot attend, enabling them to watch from their homes while this situation remains in place.

You should contact your funeral director for details on how this works.

Churches are not allowing funeral services to take place inside the churches and will only hold graveside burial services with immediate family members present, spouse and children only.

These situations are changing daily and you should seek clarity from your funeral director when planning your funeral service.

Medical Certificates Of Cause Of Death will now be sent directly to the register office by your GP surgery or Musgrove Park Hospital Bereavement Team. You no longer have to visit surgery or the hospital to collect these documents.

Once this has been done, you may register the death by making a telephone appointment with the register office on 01823-282251.

New registration (emergency powers) means you can now register a death via the telephone.

•In order to manage appointment space effectively the register office have temporarily disabled their online appointment booking facility (this may change in time – you will be kept informed by the crematorium).

•The nominated informant needs to call 01823-282251 to arrange their telephone appointment.

•At this point the informant will be asked if they would like to set up a ‘code word’ so that they can feel confident the caller is actually the registrars

•Once booked, the informant will be sent an e-mail to confirm the date and time of the telephone meeting.

•This e-mail will contain a checklist of the information that the registrar will be asking for, this is so that the informant can prepare in advance as does not feel flustered. If you can return the requested information in advance of your meeting, that would be great, but not essential.

•Registrar contacts the informant and undertakes the registration over the telephone.

•A streamlined version of the ‘Tell Us Once’ service will still be offered at the point of registration which will enable next of kin to electronically notify a range of government agencies and departments. The informant will be provided with a unique reference number and information to enable them to complete process online or over the telephone.

•For administrative purposes informants will be asked to limit the number of copy death certificates to a maximum of two at this stage.

•The registration office has a secure facility to take payment for certificates over the phone.

•The certificates and any other paperwork will be posted to the informant.

•The online certificate ordering facility is currently disabled to help manage the workload.

If you have any concerns or questions about the current situation with regards funerals and the COVID19 virus don’t hesitate to call for reassurance and to be informed of any changes to latest guidelines.