These days we often read about crematoria in Italy that can hardly keep up with the demand for cremation because the number of deaths has risen sharply. This could give the impression that Covid deceased are inevitably fed to the crematoria and are not allowed to be buried in a coffin.
In this context, it should first be noted that in Italy, unlike most of Germany, cemetery space is scarce and expensive and the rights of use often remain with the families. In the event of an accumulation of deaths – double or more in Milan and elsewhere – the only option left for dealing with lack of capacity is cremation, although this is actually contrary to Italian cultural tradition. The necessary infrastructure is simply lacking, including cold storage cells, pallbearers, cemetery excavators, all the requirements that do not arise for urns, which can also be buried later.
From a medical perspective, the remarks of the Robert Koch Institute apply, which you can find here:
Recommendations for the management of deceased persons infected with SARS-CoV-2.
It states that the general handling of people who have died of Covid/COVID-19 should be in the 3rd of 4 risk groups, and that various preventive measures in the handling of deceased people are possible and should be implemented.
In cases of COVID-19, the second post-mortem examination before cremation, which is mandatory in all German states except Bavaria, represents an additional risk of infection. So a strict risk-benefit analysis should be performed before performing it.
It does not follow from this official comment that cremation must be mandatory, certainly not when it faces cultural opposition. Rather, the comment is to be interpreted to the effect that that burials could be the better choice, because the second post-mortem examination and thus an avoidable risk of infection in handling the deceased is not necessary.
The other option would be to dispense with the mandatory second post-mortem at the crematorium, but this is out of the question as a blanket measure; rather, tightening it up is required, since no evidence of unnatural causes of death should be retained after a cremation.
It should also be borne in mind that cremation is not permitted in many communities. Consideration for their religious beliefs is a vital asset that is constitutionally protected. Incidentally, for Jews and Muslims, for example, funerals should take place as far as possible on the day after death, which is only possible with burials – even under the current restrictive conditions.