Sunderland's public health director's advice to couples amid wedding rule changes

Ministers have lifted the 30 person cap on weddings from June 21, but said that social distancing measures must still be in place.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 4:45 pm

Boris Johnson announced on Monday that most of the the easing of restrictions across England planned for later this month would be postponed until July 19 after a sharp rise in cases of the new delta variant of the virus.

But weddings are one of the few exceptions with venues able to accommodate as many guests as they can safely with social distancing measures.

However dancing is still banned at indoor venues and table service leaving many planning on tying the knot questioning if they should postpone their wedding date.

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The coronavirus rules on weddings are to be eased from June 21
The coronavirus rules on weddings are to be eased from June 21

Sunderland Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning Gerry Taylor has urged couple to be aware of the guidance and give the decision some thought.

She said: “ "I would advise couples to consider whether they can go ahead with their plans safely, and whether or not they can have the wedding day that they want to have with social distancing measures in place," she said.

How many people can attend?

The current cap of 30 guests for wedding ceremonies and receptions will be from June 21, with wedding venues responsible for determining what number of attendees they can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.

However, that headcount does not just include the happy couple and their families and friends. All those involved in the wedding must be taken into account, including venue staff, band members and photographers.

And the the rules apply to guests of all ages, with no dispensation for children.

Can we celebrate at home?

For events taking place in venues such as a garden of a private home or on private land, organisers will need to make the space as safe as possible.

A marquee or other structure in a private garden must have at least half its walled area open at any given time in order to be classed as ‘outdoors’ and for the limit based on safe capacity to apply.

Anyone planning on having more than 30 people present must complete a COVID-19 risk assessment to determine how many will be able to attend safely.

These events must not happen indoors, unless they are urgent marriages where someone getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover.

What can we do?

Food and drink can be served, but must be ordered and consumed by guests seated at a table.

Dancing indoors is still not permitted, except for the couple’s first dance.

Other restrictions under Step 3 of the Government coronavirus roadmap still apply - face coverings should be worn and social distancing maintained.

What happens if we break the rules?

Enforcing authorities, such as the Health and Safety Executive, local councils or police have range of actions available where they find venues not obeying the rules – this includes events held in gardens of private homes.

Asked if the police will be sent in, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I think we’ll use common sense.

"It is the case that the bride and groom are expected, allowed, encouraged to have a first dance, but it’s also the case that we’re not opening dance floors for weddings because we’re not opening them elsewhere as well.

“It’s four weeks. After this four-week period then I hope that we can get things back to normal.

"In the meantime, there are restrictions, but overall, I think, you know, common sense is the answer.”

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