Video of funeral in Monsey sparks questions about social distancing

Mike Lanotte, the executive director for New York state’s Funeral Director Association, says “guidelines don't specifically have a number associated with it.”

News 12 Staff

Mar 31, 2020, 9:34 PM

Updated 1,519 days ago

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A video is circulating online of a burial in Rockland that has many asking what is acceptable in the era of social distancing.
News 12 cameras were at Josef Neumann's funeral on Monday, and captured the small portion of family members in attendance, each keeping their distance up until the moment he was laid to rest at the Viznitz Cemetery in Monsey.
Josef Neumann, a father of seven, was 72 years old. He was seriously injured during the Hanukkah attack at a rabbi's home in December.
Video taken by another local reporter has gone viral, leaving many wondering what the guidelines are about the number of mourners who can attend services.
Mike Lanotte, the executive director for New York state’s Funeral Director Association, says “guidelines don't specifically have a number associated with it.”
“Obviously, the goal is to limit the numbers and keep people healthy while still allowing those immediate family members to say goodbye," he says.
Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo clarified that immediate family may attend services. Lanotte says the definition of "immediate family" can vary.
Regardless, social distancing guidelines for slowing the spread of COVID-19 require staying 6 feet away from others. In the video, that didn't appear to happen during the moment of burial.
The Rockland County Executive's Office has reached out directly to the governor's office and asked them to intercede because of a lack of clarity on enforcement of social distancing.
The state's Department of Health told News 12 that cemeteries are considered essential and may continue to hold services but to postpone when possible. If services must be held, they should be limited to as few participants as possible, such as immediate family.
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