Beth Tzedec Memorial Park: COVID-19 Pandemic Protocols
Beth Tzedec
Mar 22nd 2020

Effective as of Tuesday March 24, 2020.

Beth Tzedec Memorial Park (BTMP) is concerned about the health and safety of all individuals visiting our cemetery, the families whom we serve, funeral directors and our staff. Whether we are declared an essential service or not by government, we view our operations as such. We must therefore take a very aggressive approach to COVID-19 so that we can hopefully continue to operate in these challenging times. In compliance with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the World Health Organization and protocols determined by our federal, provincial and local governments, BTMP continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation.

Effective Tuesday March 24, 2020, and subject to change, BTMP will be operating according to the following protocols:

Our Cemetery

BTMP will be closed to the public and will only open for graveside funerals. All other types of visits to the cemetery will not be permitted.

Burial Services

We will continue to perform all scheduled graveside burials at the cemetery, subject to specific protocols regarding social distancing, protections for attendees and BTMP staff and limitations regarding gatherings (currently a maximum of 20 people, not including clergy, BTMP staff or the funeral chapel staff). At this time, the cemetery building will not be accessible to the public, which includes our public washrooms. Funeral Homes working with BTMP will be updated regarding changes to our COVID-19 protocols.

BTMP Administrative Office

BTMP’s Administrative Office will be closed for the time being. The public may still contact us by telephone at 416-665-3036, as opposed to in-person visits. BTMP will not be scheduling appointments or meetings at our office until further notice.

BTMP reserves the right to modify these protocols at any time. We appreciate your co-operation as we do our best to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while at the same time servicing the community in these challenging times.

BTMP COVID-19 Protocols for Interment

Effective Tuesday March 24, 2020, the gates of BTMP’s cemeteries will be locked and will only be opened by our cemetery staff, and only to permit entry for scheduled graveside funerals.

1.  Graveside funerals will be limited to 20 persons (excluding clergy and funeral chapel staff).  

2.  Individuals attending graveside funerals must remain in their vehicles until they are instructed by BTMP cemetery staff and/or funeral chapel staff.

3.  Individuals at the service must stand at least six feet away from the grave, maintaining social distancing of at least six feet apart from one another. 

4.  Individuals at the service must sign a register and provide contact information to funeral chapel staff, should tracing of infection become necessary.

5.  Funeral directors/assistants shall wait until the casket is lowered and BTMP cemetery staff have removed the lowering device and have created a social distance of at least six feet from the grave before allowing individuals to approach the grave.

6.  Funeral directors/assistants will direct families to create a social distance at graveside of at least six feet from one another and will use best efforts to remind families to maintain their distance during the service. At all times, visitors and funeral chapel staff must always remain at least six feet away from BTMP cemetery staff. 

7.  Only two shovels will be provided to enable the attending clergy and one representative family member to throw dirt onto the casket (please consult with your clergy to determine who that should be according to Halakhah). Once the top surface of only the casket is covered with a layer of dirt, attendees will be expected to complete the service and return to their vehicles and leave the cemetery, after which time, the cemetery staff will complete the filling of the grave. There is to be no passing of shovels.  We are expecting that the total attendance time within the cemetery grounds for any graveside funeral will be 30 minutes.

8.  All pallbearers must wear gloves and anyone who handles the cemetery’s shovels must also be wearing gloves provided by funeral chapel staff.

9.  No unveilings or grave visitations will be permitted until further notice, as these are not considered to be essential attendances in the current circumstances.

10.  Our cemetery building will be closed to the public, including our public washrooms.

11.  To mitigate risk of transmission, we will not be providing any washing cups or water at our outdoor hand washing station at the cemetery. Visitors should bring their own water for ritual hand washing after their visits.

These protocols are subject to change at any time.

Please contact Tom Laufer, cemetery administrator, at 416-665-3036 with any questions.

Thank you very much for your co-operation.