JUNE 2021 UPDATE
The Government has taken the decision to ease some of the restrictions on weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, and commemorative events such as wakes, from 21 June.
The changes allow people to celebrate their union with their families and loved ones, and aligns the wedding sector with the way most other COVID Secure venues operate - such as restaurants and pubs - where social distancing determines a venue’s capacity. Additionally, changes also bring commemorative events, such as wakes, in line with existing rules on funerals so people can say goodbye to those they have lost.
There will no longer be numerical limits in venues, including gardens of private homes. Instead, organisers must determine capacity limits with social distancing in place. This will be based on the COVID-19 risk assessment of the venue, and the measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions on singing, dancing, table service and face coverings will stay in place, as well as restrictions on holding these events indoors in private dwellings, to make sure that these events can take place as safely as possible.
The updated Step 3 wedding guidance provides detailed information about how your constituents can keep themselves, their friends and their family, and anyone working at the event safe. The guidance enables people to make safer choices by explaining how they can take steps to minimise the risk of transmission at their weddings or civil partnership celebrations, and how they can carry out a risk assessment. It will also explain the steps they can take in advance, such as getting tested and meeting others safely, as well as guidance for the day of the wedding or civil partnership itself. It is our aim that this additional guidance gives couples and those attending these events the confidence and tools to have a wedding or civil partnership while minimising the risk of transmission. A link to the guidance can be found here.
We know that weddings and civil partnerships are hugely significant moments in people's lives and our ambition is to enable as many weddings as possible to take place safely throughout the summer. We will continue to work closely with the UK Weddings Taskforce to explore areas where the Government can provide further support and clarity to the wedding sector over the summer and beyond and have assembled a cross-Government Weddings Working Group to drive action.
Wedding Industry Businesses Support
These businesses, which include venue, catering, make-up, photography, cake, dress, tailor and florist businesses, help make a couple’s wedding day incredibly special. I do sympathise with any engaged couple who have had to cancel or postpone their wedding as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. I also understand how this difficult time has caused many challenges for businesses, and I continue to raise industry-specific concerns with my Ministerial colleagues.
To support businesses during this time, the Chancellor has rightly expanded and extended schemes included in the unprecedented package of financial support. These measures have included grants, business rates relief, VAT deferral, self-employment income support and loan schemes. In addition, I welcome the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to the end of April 2021 which will help to protect jobs this winter period.
Businesses which are required to close are eligible for a grant of up to £9,000. This comes on top of existing grants to eligible closed businesses of up to £3,000 per month and grants of £2,100 to impacted businesses which remain open.
Further details on what support is available and the schemes is available online at: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
At a time of crisis such as this when we have the variant of the Covid-19 virus in every part of the UK, it is always a challenge to find the right balance between keeping people safe and providing comfort by letting people gather in the company of others. My hope is that the latest temporary restrictions will give us time to vaccinate those who are most vulnerable to the disease while also help reduce the number of cases to a point where we can safely gather in larger groups without having to worry about risking the lives of those closest to us.
Those businesses which have not received wider grant support or have been severely impacted by restrictions may be eligible for the Additional Restrictions Grant, which provides local councils with discretionary funding to support businesses. £1.6 billion has already been allocated and an additional £425 million will be topped up to all Local Authorities in England. Local Authorities are encouraged to use this to support businesses from all sectors that may have been severely impacted by restrictions, but are not eligible for the Restart Grant scheme. In the Government's weekly bulletin (15 June) to Local Authorities, the needs of businesses in the wedding sector have been specifically highlighted. The Weddings Taskforce are also highlighting this source of funding through their networks.