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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Coronavirus causing funeral homes to stop indoor services

"For us to have to be able to limit the number of people, we have canceled all indoor activities in our funeral home."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The coronavirus has caused a slowdown for many businesses. Some are able to postpone their operations and others just simply cannot.

One industry that has been impacted is the funeral home industry.

"Daily life for everyone has changed, so naturally the funeral life has to make changes as well," said Ford Canale, Canale Funeral Director.

That's something you don't often think about, but it's happening.

The Centers for Disease Control's guidelines for gatherings of 10 or less is sort of a grim reaper for the funeral industry.

"For us to have to be able to limit the number of people, we have canceled all indoor activities in our funeral home. We're not allowed to have any visitation of funeral services here," said Canale.

Canale Funeral Directors is the oldest funeral home in Memphis dating back to 1843.

"When you look at the funeral service, it is very much hands-on. It's is very intimate, close contact, people coming to shake hands, to give you a hug, offer condolences during a time of grief," said Canale.

That kind of contact is a risk when it comes to the coronavirus.

"From the business side and where we're concerned with ourselves, is if all five of us that operate this place were infected, than our business would close," said Canale.

For the families of those wanting to celebrate a loved one's life, it is difficult as well.

"If the person chooses a burial, there are graveside services only. Cremation options are a little bit different because we can proceed with cremation," said Canale.

A graveside service has its limits as well.

"Some cemeteries are only limiting services to immediate families who can attend, because they need to take any precautions for the City of Memphis, and all the people who will be attending. But also the staff who are handling the operations,” said Canale.

Canale Funeral Directors' haven't had an indoor service in more than 10 days.

"Some people call in knowing that it's going to be different, knowing that it's not going to be the way it was a few weeks ago," said Canale. "We did have a church service last Friday, but a lot of the churches that we regularly do funerals with, synagogues, are canceling not only their Sunday services, but they're not allowing any funeral services."

Some funeral homes and churches have turned to live stream funeral services.

"Watching it on your computer is totally different from being there because of the comfort level," said Canale. "While it is difficult that people aren't able to come and wish you their condolences in person, families have been very understanding."

Canale said while live stream funeral services is something his business does not do, he is considering the possibility.

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