InvoCare shares plunge on funeral limits

InvoCare shares plunge on funeral limits

Funeral home operator InvoCare (ASX: IVC) is dead set on not letting last night's new social distancing measures be the nail in the coffin for business.

As part of the government's wide-reaching restrictions, funerals will not be allowed unless there are no more than 10 people in attendance and only one person per four square metres.

InvoCare, which also runs cemeteries and crematoria, saw its shares plummet by almost 16 per cent to $9.42 by 12:30pm AEDT.

Chief executive officer Martin Earp says the current restrictions will affect the company's ability to offer a full range of services to client families.

"We are now focusing on implementing a series of contingency plans to both reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our business and allow us to continue to meet the needs of our client families during this unprecedented crisis," says Earp.

"I would like to reassure families we will continue to arrange funeral and memorial services."

To keep services operating, InvoCare will have live streaming and webcast recording options available in many locations.

"We want to ensure those family, friends and colleagues who are unable to attend a funeral service due to the current social distancing and quarantine requirements that they feel part of the farewell," says Earp.

"We are focussing on the introduction of services to meet the needs of client families amidst the restrictions on social gatherings. 

"We will continue to offer a 24-hour 7 day a week service to assist our client families and the community."

InvoCare has implemented a raft of measures designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 across its operations in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. This includes activating reserve mortuaries to ensure that cases of Covid-19 are kept separate from the core business.

Like so many companies on the ASX, InvoCare's shares have been hit hard over the past month. A strong performance for 2019 reported on 26 February lifted shares by 13 per cent in one day to $14.57, but since then they have progressively declined. 

Updated at 12:40pm AEDT on 25 March 2020.

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