KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) - The Texas Funeral Service Commission has released new guidelines for funeral services.
The guidelines come after Gov. Greg Abbott loosened restrictions on churches, allowing regular services to resume but with social distancing protocols in place.
Before the Commission’s new guidelines, funeral homes across East Texas were offering only graveside services or streaming services online.
Now funeral services can be held inside as long as the funeral home is following the social distancing guidelines that say there must be at least 6 feet of separation between family groups and that every other row must be kept empty. The Commission also says "areas where the public has interacted should be disinfected in between each service. Each funeral home should also use their best judgment as to the total number of people in the funeral home at any given time; including guests and staff. If at any time, a person who is designated as a high risk individual attends the viewing, a special designated area needs to be available for them. This area needs to be disinfected prior to and after each use."
Jessica Cunningham James is a funeral director at the Cunningham Funeral Home in Kilgore. She said for the time being, they will continue to offer only graveside services.
“Just because most of the churches that we use are not available for funerals. They’re not open for regular church service so they won’t be having funerals. They’re still doing the online streaming or doing parking lot services,” James said. “We received a letter from the Texas Funeral Service Commission giving us guidelines and rules as to what we have to do as far as the rows, like we have to block off every other row — rope it off so that everybody has to sit every other row. They also told us that we would need to make sure that we sanitize the area that people have been in. SO, that’s another thing. You usually don’t have to sanitize when you go to the churches, but that would be something that we would need to make sure that we were able to do.”
The TFSC also recommends that funeral homes continue to offer live streaming so those at high-risk of serious complications from COVID-19 can still attend the service but without exposing themselves to the coronavirus.
Click here for more details on the modified and updated recommendations from the Texas Funeral Service Commission.