Japan eases COVID-19 restrictions on funerals

REUTERS file photo
An employee of funeral operator adjusts flowers inside a viewing room where coffins are delivered through hatches whenever friends and family come to pay their respects to the dead during a photo opportunity in Yokohama, 2011.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry revised its guidelines on conducting funerals and other events for people who died after contracting the novel coronavirus, in a move to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

The revised guidelines allow wakes and funerals for infected people to be held normally, saying there is no need to use body bags because the risk of infection from dead bodies “is extremely low when measures to prevent body fluid from leaking, such as plugging nostrils, are taken.”

The old guidelines, drawn up in July 2020, recommended the use of such bags and asked bereaved families not to touch the bodies of the deceased.

But bereaved families have complained that the guidelines made it impossible for them to give proper last goodbyes to their loved ones.

The revised guidelines allow attendees at wakes and funerals to touch the bodies of the deceased, only calling for disinfecting hands after touching.

Those who are identified as close contacts are asked to decide whether to attend those events after checking any symptoms they have and taking coronavirus tests.