The health ministry plans to ease restrictions on funerals for people who died after infection with coronavirus and stop requiring the use of body bags, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Other envisioned changes to the guideline for funerals of COVID-19 patients include no longer urging bereaved family members who became close contacts of the deceased to refrain from attending their funerals as long as antivirus measures are taken, the sources said.

The move comes amid growing calls for easing restrictions after many people were unable to take a last look at their deceased loved ones at funerals or were barred from cremation facilities for fear of spreading infections.

The ministry is seeking to revise the guideline by the year-end at the earliest, according to the sources.

The current guideline, set in July 2020, urges people to avoid touching the bodies of deceased COVID-19 patients to prevent infections, explaining that the risk can be minimized by keeping the bodies inside a transparent body bag.

The guideline also recommends considering the infection situation in deciding whether to hold funerals physically or online.

The ministry plans to enable people to hold a wake and funeral for COVID-19 patients and to no longer ask people to avoid coming into contact with the body but to sanitize their hands if they do.

In October, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato suggested reviewing the guideline, saying more than two years have passed since the guideline was compiled.