A GROUP of funeral directors is backing a campaign for people to bow when a hearse goes past during the coronavirus lockdown.

Douch Family Funeral Directors says social distancing requirements are making funerals especially difficult for mourners.

Managing director Nick Douch said people need to know how funerals currently operate so they are prepared if a loved one dies.

He is backing calls for people to observe the traditional custom of bowing and removing hats when a funeral goes by.

He said: “Unlike weddings, funerals have not been banned, but there are restrictions. Government guidelines say there ought to be a maximum of 10 mourners at a funeral.

“With churches and other religious centres closed, that really applies to the crematoria – or for burials in a cemetery or church yard.

“Social distancing must also be observed during funerals, which can be difficult at a time of great sadness when people instinctively want to embrace.

“We are sending the minimum number of staff to each funeral – essentially the funeral director and two others to move the coffin on a trolley.

“Mourners at crematoria are being asked to remain in their cars until the funeral begins because the waiting rooms are closed.

“Although many who want to be at funerals can’t attend them, there is the facility to live stream services, which many people are taking advantage of.

“Our limousines are not being used, to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, and, if someone’s death is suspected of being coronavirus-related, sadly there is no opportunity to view the body.

“All the paperwork and registration can now be done online, with forms being filled in digitally, and the death certificates are being sent by post.”

The company had asked whether funerals could be delayed until the restrictions are lifted, but it was not practical because of the capacity it would require.

“It is an especially difficult time for people whose loved ones have died and that is one reason why we are backing the campaign to encourage people to stop, remove their hats and bow when a funeral goes past,” he said.

“This tradition used to be more widely practised and we would love to see more people help to revive it.”

The company operates in Wimborne, Ferndown, Wareham, Poole, Swanage, Blandford and Corfe Mullen, with branches under the names of Douch & Small, AE Jolliffe & Son, Albert Marsh, James Smith, Ives & Shand and Lesley Shand Funeral Service.