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Funerals may proceed under Gov. Inslee’s stay-at-home order with certain precautions

Gov. Jay Inslee released new guidelines Saturday for funeral homes, real estate agents, and tribal leaders in Washington state under his stay-at-home order.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee is providing more guidance for funeral homes, real estate agents, and Washinton state tribal leaders following his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Under the governor's proclamation, Washingtonians are only supposed to leave home for "essential" business like going to work or grocery shopping. 

There have been some questions as to if funerals are considered essential under the order. Gov. Inslee clarified in a letter on Saturday that funerals can proceed, as long as they take the following precautions. 


Gov. Inslee said licensed funeral homes and cemeteries can hold services in a funeral home or at a gravesite under these conditions: 

  • Funerals are only attended by immediate family members of the deceased.
  • The family members in attendance must maintain proper social distancing, defined by the Centers for Disease Control as staying 6 feet apart.

Shannon Smith of Lynden, Wash., said Gov. Inslee's clarification came a little too late. Her grandmother passed away last week and they buried her on Friday with only Shannon and her husband in attendance. 

“I’m feeling like it’s a day too late for all of us who have not been able to have a funeral for the last two weeks," Smith said.

Smith said they Facebook Live streamed the burial for their 50 other family members. 

“It’s different for weddings, birthdays, you can postpone those. Funerals? Doesn’t work so well," said Smith. "You want to be able to put the body in the ground and celebrate a well-lived life and go from there, but this is not what you’re able to do."

There have also been questions raised about embalming, and the governor's office said there are currently no restrictions on embalming.

RELATED: These essential businesses can stay open during Washington's stay-at-home order


Real estate and mortgage lending activities are considered "essential" under Gov. Inslee's proclamation, however, it must be done remotely or with social distancing in mind when possible.

These are the governor’s latest guidelines:

  • In-person meetings with customers are prohibited except when necessary for a customer to view a property or sign necessary documents;
  • No real estate open houses shall be permitted;
  • Property viewings, inspections, appraisals, and final walk-throughs shall be arranged by appointment and limited to no more than two people on-site at any one time, exercising social distancing at all times; and
  • Except for the limited exceptions authorized above, all new real estate listings shall be facilitated remotely.

The governor's office said it's important to keep real estate transactions moving so homeowners with pending deals do not become homeless during this crisis. 


While Gov. Inslee's proclamation does cover the entire state, he clarified the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order does not apply to tribal lands in Washington. 

“Tribal governments, as sovereign nations, are making their own decisions in response to the current COVID-19 emergency,” said Gov. Inslee in a letter to the tribal leaders this week. “While I have defined essential activities in Washington, tribal leaders main sovereignty to define essential activities on tribal lands.”

Gov. Inslee also said if tribal governments determine certain activities or businesses on their lands as "essential," then Washingtonians can leave their homes to pursue those tribally defined activities on tribal lands, even if those activities are not considered essential on non-tribal lands under his order. 

RELATED: State launches site to clarify ‘essential’ businesses under stay-home order

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