Weddings in England: “Step 2” relaxation of lockdown

On 16 March 2021, The Weddings Taskforce* issued an update Statement regarding Weddings in England in Step 2 (April 12th – May 17th) (“the Statement”) which reported that it had received confirmation that, between, 12th April and 16th May 2021, weddings and receptions will only be permitted for 15 guests in places of worship, public buildings, locations and outdoor settings that are already permitted to open. This noted that the Taskforce “has been seeking clarity over inconsistencies and ambiguities between the roadmap announcements (and accompanying Government-produced graphics), the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ published 22nd February, and the ‘Re-opening businesses and venues in England’ published 24th February by the Cabinet Office”.

The Statement continued [emphasis added]:

“We believe Government should honour the reasonable assumptions made by couples, venues, suppliers and their own Registrars (who have been booking weddings for couples in licensed wedding venues in the same period).  All weddings and receptions for up to 15 people should be permitted in COVID-secure wedding venues. Couples understand the limitations, and venues, by law, operate with strict safety protocols in place.” §

It also announced that the Taskforce was meeting the Minister and his department Wednesday afternoon, when they would “also seek an explanation as to why the updated Weddings Guidance remains unpublished more than three weeks after the roadmap announcements”; however, at the time of writing this post there have been no further updates.

Comment

The wedding venues permitted prior to 16th May 2021 in the “roadmap out of the current lockdown for England” do not include the vast majority of England’s licensed wedding venues; these account for over 70% of weddings take place. The Taskforce estimates this is likely to affect about 7,000 weddings that have been planned for this period.

Although these venues fall outwith those normally covered by L&RUK, they are subject to the same legislation and guidance, and it is important to define where the boundaries exist. For example, the GMO advice regarding recent changes to the registration of weddings by (all) Authorised Persons makes no distinctions regarding the venue, other than those specific to all such weddings in this category.


* The UK Weddings Taskforce “was established to act as a unified voice representing all areas of the UK wedding industry during the global coronavirus pandemic…The UK Weddings Taskforce aims to find and promote ways that the Government can ease the enormous pressure all wedding businesses have come under since the start of the Covid-19 crisis”.

The formation of the Taskforce was first mooted in the Westminster Hall Debate Live Events and Weddings: Covid-19 Support on 9 November 2020; this considered e-petition 329339 relating to the number of guests permitted at weddings during the coronavirus pandemic, and e-petition 332789 relating to support for nightclubs, festivals and the live events industry.

§ The Taskforce update Restriction-free weddings back on after June 21st, issued on 22 February 2021, suggests that the immediate relaxation the sector is currently seeking would be commercially unattractive to most of those represented by the Taskforce: “Weddings to resume with only 6 guests from 8th March, increasing to 15 guests from 12th April and 30 from 17th May – a number commercially unviable for most businesses.”

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Weddings in England: “Step 2” relaxation of lockdown" in Law & Religion UK, 19 March 2021, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2021/03/19/weddings-in-england-step-2-relaxation-of-lockdown/

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