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When federal and state governments issued executive orders on large gathering guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19, some exceptions were made, and among them were funeral services.

According to the Kansas Funeral Directors Association, funerals are not included in the 50 person limit, although they want to try to encourage all families to take into consideration the seriousness of the outbreak and public health, Swaim Funeral Chapel in Dodge City said.

"We will be giving our families various options from limiting the size of the service to having the service at a later date or continuing with the service with no changes," Swaim staff said. "However, some churches are regulating the number of people that can be in attendance so we would abide by those rules.

"This is an unknown area and we will be continually monitoring regulations and adjusting as needed to best serve our families."

Phillip Ziegler, with Ziegler Funeral Chapel in Dodge City, added that initially, the 50 or more gathering guideline was followed before Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order on March 17 to allow the funeral service exemption.

"We were originally informed that no more than 50 people can attend the funeral or visitation," Ziegler said. "We had a funeral on March 17 and kept it to 50. The family was of course disappointed but understood. Then we received information that said it does not apply.

"I am going to think that a lot of families are going to have the burial or cremation take place and public services at a later date, perhaps when traveling is not as big of an issue.

"As far as in-house changes, we do a little more disinfecting then normal."

Other exemptions from the March 17 executive order from Kelly are meetings of the Kansas Legislature, U.S. government operations, religious gatherings (as long as social distancing is followed), airports, child care locations, hotels and motels, military facilities, all law enforcement facilities, any facility being used for community response centers or natural disasters, food and shelter facilities, detox centers, apartment complexes, shopping malls (as long as people are not within arm's reach of each other for more than 10 minutes), all medical facilities and pharmacies, long-term and assisted living facilities, and retail food establishments.

The executive order added to keep a distance of 6 feet and to continue to follow all health recommendations issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

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