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Three Roanoke Rapids funeral homes today issued a joint statement on how they proceed with services during the COVID-19 threat.

The statement was issued by Hockaday Funeral & Cremation Service, Askew Funeral & Cremation Services and Wrenn Clarke & Hagan.

“During this time of unprecedented international health crisis, we understand that, as always, our primary focus is to care for your family, honor the life of your loved one, and allow the community to share their sorrow with you as best is possible,” the statement said. “We also have to consider the health and safety of our staff, your family, and our community at large.”

This will not apply to arrangements which have already been planned, unless further information from the government is received.

Based on information and recommendations they have received from national resources — the CDC, state government and the NC Board of Funeral Service — the funeral homes have chosen to implement the following procedures for all services immediately and throughout the foreseeable future:

No public visitations will be allowed. If you wish to have guests visit with you in your home, that is your choice.

All funeral or memorial services will be private events with a maximum number of 50 attendees. This includes clergy, celebrants, necessary funeral home staff and immediate family.

This number will not be exceeded, and is subject to be lowered at any time, depending on any additional information the funeral homes receive.

Graveside services are the preferred choice, however if the service is held at the funeral home or another facility, the number of attendees will remain at 50.

Guests will be asked to sign the online guestbook in lieu of a traditional book. Handling of the book, pens and memorial folders by attendees may lead to possible contamination, depending on who guests have come into contact with recently.

“We realize these measures may seem extreme, however, in light of what we know, but more importantly what we don't know, this action is necessary for the health and welfare of us all. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through this together," the statement said.