Operational updates March 2020

If you are a Funeral Director or GMCT Business Partner, please email corpcomms@gmct.com.au to be receiving information and updated relating to COVID-19.

We will continue to provide burial, cremation and interment services, and will continue to maintain safe and accessible cemetery grounds. Our customer care and bookings teams will still remain fully operational, but as this situation evolves please be patient if wait times are higher than usual.

Not receiving these updates by email?

If you are a funeral director, stonemason or other business partner of GMCT, and have not received recent emails from us regarding coronavirus (COVID-19), please corpcomms@gmct.com.au to be added to the list.


Operational update 30 March 2020

Permitted funeral numbers

The Victorian Government has confirmed that funerals will continue to have a limit of 10 mourners plus any essential staff or Funeral Director/celebrant. Please ensure you continue to prepare a guest list with your paperwork and that you inform your customers about this legal limit.

For further details please visit https://www.vic.gov.au/coronavirusresponse


Operational update #4 25 March 2020

  • For burials, GMCT staff will help set essential equipment only, and will leave once the service starts. They will not help with lowering of coffins and no unessential equipment will be provided (including chairs).

  • For chapel services, GMCT staff will brief funeral directors on the use of audio-visual equipment prior to the service, and step out for the duration of the service.

  • All paperwork is to be submitted by the close of business the day prior to the service in order to minimise gatehouse interactions.

  • A proposed guest list must be submitted with relevant paperwork to help manage guest numbers.

  • No exhumations will be carried out until further notice.

Please work with your families to ensure social distancing practices are observed at all times. The Federal Chief Health Officer has acknowledged these latest measures are ‘draconian’ but, that they are ‘absolutely necessary’ to slow the spread of coronavirus.


Operational update #3 25 March 2020

  • All funerals scheduled to take place from 26 March 2020 onwards will be subject to a limit of 10 people per funeral.

  • Those attending a funeral will be asked to practise social distancing requirements.


Operational update #2 25 March 2020

Additional public health measures at funerals

We are still fully operational, complying with all government directives, and planning ahead to ensure we can remain fully functional for the families and communities we serve.

Following on from our email this morning, and after further consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services, we have determined the following extraordinary guidelines will come into effect at all GMCT sites from tomorrow, Wednesday 26 March 2019.

Only essential equipment will be permitted at services, both inside and outside, in order to allow mourners, funeral directors and others to observe social distancing of four square metres (for example, no chairs will be permitted at gravesides).

In order to comply with the maximum attendance of 10 people per funeral:

  • GMCT chapel attendants and burial staff will set up, but will not participate in the service, standing well back. This includes for the lowering of coffins.

  • At chapels, staff will meet Funeral Directors prior to the service to provide a brief overview of equipment, but will leave the chapel during the service.

  • All paperwork is to be submitted by close of business the day prior to the service in order to minimise gatehouse interactions.

  • When submitting paperwork, a proposed guest list should be submitted to GMCT to help us all work together with the family to manage numbers.

  • No exhumations will be carried out until further notice.

Please work with your families to ensure social distancing practices are observed at all times.

The Federal Chief Health Officer has acknowledged these latest measures are ‘draconian’ but, that they are ‘absolutely necessary’ to slow the spread of coronavirus.

More information is available at the DHHS website here.


Operational update #1 25 March 2020

New limits on funeral attendance New measures announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the evening of 24 March limit attendance at funerals to ten people. These restrictions are designed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

"If we're going to control community transmission we have to stop the capacity of this virus from spreading from person to person," he said.

What does this mean for us?

All funerals scheduled to take place from 26 March 2020 onwards will be subject to a limit of 10 people per funeral.

This number includes funeral directors, celebrants and one attendant, and applies to both indoor and outdoor services.

Those attending a funeral will be asked to practise social distancing requirements and observe a two metre distance between attendees.

We are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to understand these new measures, and will take every precaution to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19.


Operational update 23 March 2020

GMCT is fully operational and complying with all current advice. Funerals are proceeding as per our previous advice.

  • Funerals are specifically exempt from the definition of 'non-essential services' that have been suspended. Social distancing conditions still apply.

  • The Fawkner Memorial Park Tea Rooms will be operating as a function venue only, and providing takeaway cafe service only.

  • The Northern Memorial Park Commemoration Centre cafe is providing takeaway service only.

The Premier has released an official statement in relation to the new social distancing measures he foreshadowed last night.

To avoid any confusion: funerals are specifically exempt from the definition of 'non-essential services' that have been suspended.

Therefore, funerals will go ahead per previous advice in accordance with social distancing principles. Please remember that this means:

  • maximum chapel capacities as per last advice - 35 people in all chapels except the Eden Room at Northern Memorial Park (25) and Fawkner Memorial Park Tea Rooms (20)

  • maximum capacity includes 1 GMCT staff member, plus FD staff in attendance.

Note: the maximum capacities listed above include one GMCT staff member, and all funeral director staff present at the service.

Please ensure attendees at all services observe social distancing measures, and comply with seating plans.

Cafe services trading as takeaway only

In accordance with these latest measures, the Fawkner Memorial Park Tea Rooms will be operating as a function venue only, and providing takeaway cafe service only.

The Northern Memorial Park Commemoration Centre cafe is providing takeaway service only.


Operational update 20 March 2020

New social distancing rules for public gatherings

  • Indoor gatherings must not exceed one person per four square meters.

  • GMCT are unable to accept bookings for groups exceeding these limits, and existing bookings will need to comply.

Click here for a detailed summary of the new capacities for our cemeteries’ chapels and function rooms as well as further information pertaining to this update.

Funerals have been classified as non-essential gatherings and are subject to the new social distancing practices announced by the Prime Minister today.

Indoor gatherings, including funeral services and functions, must not exceed one person per four square metres.

In accordance with these rules, a summary of the maximum capacities of all our available venues is provided here.

We are unable to accept bookings for groups exceeding these limits, and existing bookings will also need to comply with these new rules.

It is our shared responsibility to make sure all funerals comply with the Australian Government's requirements.

The Australian Government provides advice for organising public gatherings via the Department of Health, and it is essential that you review this website prior to organising a funeral as the rules are being regularly updated.

An information sheet is now available with advice on organising public gatherings here.

Coronavirus update - more to come

By Monday morning most Victorians will be aware of statements from the Premier of Victoria yesterday and this morning indicating enhanced measures over the coming 48 hours to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

We are working closely with DHHS to understand the impact of this situation on GMCT and are committed to keeping you informed about the impacts of coronavirus on the services we provide for the families and communities of Victoria.

The health and wellbeing of our staff, business partners, and the families and communities we serve are our top priorities.

We will continue to share operational updates as they come to hand.These are indeed unprecedented times, and we’re all in this together.

Let’s look after each other, our friends, and our families, and take all the steps necessary to #flattenthecurve and slow the spread of coronavirus.

Thank you for your understanding.


Operational update 18 March 2020

Temporary changes to funeral services

We will continue to provide burial, cremation and interment services, and will continue to maintain safe and accessible cemetery grounds. However, we have implemented some changes to the way we deliver our services to ensure we provide a safe environment for the families and communities we serve.

Chapel service measures

In order to ensure our staff remain healthy so we can provide continuity of service for the foreseeable future, GMCT staff will oversee chapel services in line with principles of social distancing per current advice.

  • Large services: Following the Prime Minister’s announcement this morning regarding indoor gatherings of 100 or more people, we will not be accepting chapel bookings for services with attendance over 100 people.

  • Amended schedule: We have adjusted our booking schedule for all chapels in order to allow more time between services (attached). This temporary schedule will allow for thorough cleaning during turnover between services, and for the air conditioning system to fully cycle the air between services to reduce the risk of infection.

Chapel services will be restricted to one hour only, and double bookings will not be available. The amended schedule is attached with this fact sheet. We ask all funeral directors to strictly adhere to this schedule, and to help move funeral parties in and out of our venues promptly.

Temporary closure of secondary chapels: In order to focus our efforts and resources at our most frequented venues, the following low-demand chapels will be closed from Monday 23 March 2020: Preston Mausoleum chapel and Templestowe chapel and function room

The Altona Chapel of Peace will be available for function bookings only from Monday 23 March. Funeral bookings will be available in the Chapel of Repose only.

Other measures

  • Cleaning and hygiene: Our chapels and associated amenities at Altona Memorial Park, Fawkner Memorial Park and Lilydale Memorial Park will be professionally cleaned between each service. Additional cleaning services have been added for our reception areas and appointment rooms. Wall-mounted hand sanitisers will be installed in public areas over the coming days, including chapels, reception areas and appointment rooms. Our catering provider, Celeste Catering, have appointed a hygiene officer to coordinate additional measures across all kitchens, venues and function rooms.

  • Reduced face-to-face contact: Our reception areas at all sites will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays until further notice. All Saturday sales appointments will be rescheduled to weekday appointment slots, and families will be asked to limit attendees at these appointments to two people per family.

  • Remote service delivery: Our phone and online channels remain fully operational, however as we may be operating with a reduced workforce, please be patient if wait times are higher than usual. We have equipped non-frontline GMCT staff with remote working arrangements so they can continue to serve our families, communities and business partners. If you have an upcoming appointment with GMCT that you feel uncomfortable attending in person, we are more than happy to facilitate these meetings online or by phone. Please contact us to discuss how we can best work with you.

  • Community events deferred: In line with Australian government advice to minimise social gatherings, we have cancelled all planned community events until further notice. Please keep an eye on our website for updates.

  • Looking after our staff: We have provided staff with the necessary hygiene equipment to ensure we are doing our best to safeguard against the rapid spread of COVID-19. We have asked staff members showing signs or symptoms of illness to remain at home and seek medical advice, and to only return to work once cleared of any significant illness.