Coronavirus: Government to consider looser rules on funerals and burials at alert level 4

The Government has promised to consider loosening the rules around funerals and burials at alert level 4.

The change would address inconsistencies that grieving families and funeral directors have been grappling with and wanting to change.

Funerals, tangihanga and burials are permitted at level 3 - although they're capped to 10 people - but at level 4 they aren't allowed.

Last week the Government made some changes allowing families to view bodies at funeral homes and now there's a push for them to consider allowing families to be socially distanced at a gravesite.

"If that request was made to us we would certainly look at it," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Sunday.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson added that the Government will take a look at it but didn't have anything definitive to say about it.

While at level 4, distanced but still cosy queues at the supermarket and strangers exercising while socially distant is allowed, yet grieving with others while still staying in your bubble isn't.

Dr Bloomfield says the reason for tight rules on funerals and tangi is because these are times where people like to comfort each other, but Simon McLachlan, who was meant to attend his mum Diana's funeral with family and friends until lockdown was announced, disagrees with this.

Level 4 for all of New Zealand was announced two days before her funeral was due to be held, meaning McLachlan and his family couldn't celebrate his mum's life.

"We're all a bit upset that we couldn't be there. No parent should be buried without anyone seeing them, without anyone around them. That's just bullshit, I reckon," he tells Newshub.

The family refused to let Diana go alone, so they defied the rules but stuck to their bubbles.

"We went anyway… When you go into the ground, that's finality, there's no more there and we needed that. It's not right for anybody. I don't care who you are - it's not right."

Lamb & Hayward Funeral Directors CEO Stephen Parkyn believes the rules surrounding funerals and tangi need to be loosened.

"Grieving and being able to farewell a loved one is an essential activity, an essential element of what we are as humans," he says.

Technically people are allowed to exercise outdoors at a cemetery as long as there's social distancing, everyone's wearing masks and there's no bubble bursting. But if they pause because their loved one is being buried at the same time, it becomes a crime, and for grieving families, the irony is heartbreaking.