Breaking news: COVID-19: marriage and civil partnerships in Wales

As from 12.01 a.m. on 22 June 2020, the limitations on marriage and civil partnership ceremonies taking place in Wales have been removed.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 6) Regulations 2020 WSI No. 619 (W. 141) were made on 19 June 2020 and come into force at 12.01 a.m. on 22 June 2020. They will be laid before Senedd Cymru at 11.00 a.m. on 22 June 2020.

The Explanatory Note states inter alia:

Regulation 2 of these Regulations amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

The amendments consist of provision—

[…]

(c) removing limitations on marriage and civil partnership ceremonies taking place, subject to physical distancing requirements;

(d) permitting places of worship to open for private prayer;

(e) making it clear that a place of worship or community centre may open (at the request of the Welsh Ministers or a local authority) in order to provide any public service.

[…]

Comment

Advance notice of changes to the Regulations, although not their content or timing, was indicated in COVID-19: update on reopening places of worship in Wales, in which The Revd Gethin Rhys, Policy Officer of Cytûn: Churches together in Wales commented:

“No further announcement is expected until Friday, 19 June. But following further discussions, the Welsh Government has agreed that it would be timely to draw the attention of those responsible for places of worship to guidance which is already in the public domain, which in due course may be useful to those who wish to arrange the re-opening of places of worship, once that is permitted, and should they wish to do so. Not all guidance will be relevant to all buildings or situations, but we believe that being in possession of this information will allow building managers to begin preparatory work if they so wish.”

The last minute changes to the restrictions on marriage is reflected in the Further Pastoral Guidance from the Bench of Bishops dated 19 June, which states that apart from two exceptions, “marriages cannot currently take place in churches”. The BBC reports “[t]he new wedding measures follow calls from couples to marry, even if it means a ceremony with just witnesses and a registrar…[t]he changes include a provision for travel outside of a local area to a venue to attend a solemnization of a marriage or formation of a civil partnership.

It brings it into line with the rules on attending funerals, where the number of mourners has been severely restricted by venue sizes”. The change of heart on marriage and partnership ceremonies follows moves to relax other restrictions, including changes to allow private prayer in places of worship.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Breaking news: COVID-19: marriage and civil partnerships in Wales" in Law & Religion UK, 21 June 2020, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2020/06/21/breaking-news-covid-19-marriage-and-civil-partnerships-in-wales/

 

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