The COVID-19 virus has led to the shutdown or near shutdown of many businesses and activities. There should be a relaxing of the rules for wakes and funerals.

Since the coronavirus arrived in the United States from China, the world has been turned upside down. In an effort to slow the virus' spread and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed, the government has put harsh restrictions on people's activities.

Wakes and funerals and the associated religious and celebration of the deceased have been strictly curtailed or totally eliminated. It is time for these decisions to be revisited and, in many cases, reversed.

I have experienced the uplifting impact of wakes and funerals. At your lowest moment, the world around you becomes closer and more caring. People come to you and they express their fond memories of your deceased loved one and they bring them back to life for a few moments. I can't imagine going through the loss of a parent or other close family member without the rejuvenating experience of a professional funeral.

In the Greater New Bedford area, we have lost a young soldier and a well-known retired educator since the prohibition on gatherings was ordered by the government. That is just a sample of the people we have lost but couldn't honor traditionally.

There are also the economic costs associated with keeping the funeral businesses closed. Lots of people are employed in the funeral industry and in associated businesses and there are serious amounts of investment capital tied up in those small business enterprises.

I'm confident the funeral directors and the regulators can figure out a way to conduct traditional ceremonies in a safe manner. This should be a top priority for Governor Baker and his staff.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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