A government minister has said he would like to see more people allowed to attend weddings in England and hinted that Boris Johnson could say something specifically on the matter next week.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News he would “like to see the number of people attending weddings increase” and said the government is giving “careful thought” on whether to allow the current limit of 30 guests to be raised.
Mr Jenrick said weddings will be one of the topics that the prime minister will address on 14 June, when a decision is due to be made on whether the government’s target date of 21 June, for the next relaxation of restrictions in England, can go ahead.
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But he warned prospective couples not to make plans for large events until the prime minister has spoken next Monday “if that is important to you”.
Planning a wedding has been a difficult process for many since the first COVID lockdown in March 2020.
Since step three of the government’s roadmap on 17 May, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted for up to 30 people in COVID-secure venues that are allowed to open.
Before step three of the government’s roadmap last month, receptions could only take place with up to 15 people in the form of a sit-down meal in outdoor venues with COVID precautions in place.
Under plans for 21 June, people would be able to invite as many guests as they like to their wedding – which could take place both indoors or outdoors.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford issued new guidance on Friday, which places outdoor wedding receptions in the same category as sporting events, concerts and festivals.
It means, in Wales, rules on outdoor wedding receptions now allow guest numbers to match concerts and sporting events – up to 10,000 people sitting or 4,000 standing.
Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday morning, Mr Jenrick acknowledged the current guidance for weddings in England is “very tough”, with many having to make difficult decisions as to which family members and friends can attend.
“Well, weddings can go ahead right now but with a maximum of 30 guests. I appreciate that that is very tough and I would like to see the number of people attending weddings increase,” he said
“We are giving that careful thought. That will be one of the topics that the PM will address on 14 June.
“So again, people who are looking forward to those weddings don’t have very long to wait for an answer.”
Pushed on what his advice was for couples who have planned larger celebrations post-21 June in accordance with the government’s roadmap, Mr Jenrick added: “Well, we have always said that the roadmap is subject to review of the data, that is what is happening right now.”
He continued: “So I wouldn’t make plans until you have heard from the PM if that is important to you.
“But weddings can go ahead right now, but just with a maximum of 30 guests.”
Mr Johnson married Carrie Symonds in a small ceremony at Westminster Cathedral at the end of May.
Coronavirus restrictions meant about 220,000 weddings were postponed last year, meaning 94% of celebrations did not go ahead.
Many of the 60,000 businesses in this £14.7bn sector, which employs about 400,000 workers, have been pushed to the brink of closure as a result.
Sarah Haywood, spokesperson for the UK Weddings Taskforce, told Sky News: “The infrastructure at the very heart of our sector is due to collapse.
“The wedding industry needs a clear plan. We have been unable to trade in a commercially viable form for nearly a year and it’s obvious that we’re not going to be trading at full capacity for some time.”
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