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GuidanceCoronavirus (COVID-19): Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations Guidance for couples planning to get married or form a civil partnership in England, as well as managers of venues that host ceremonies and receptions. From:Cabinet Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial StrategyPublished13 May 2021 Applies to:England (see guidance for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. Purpose of this guidance

  3. COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021

  4. Key principles

  5. Social distancing measures

  6. The marriage ceremony or civil partnership formation

  7. Venues for weddings and civil partnerships

  8. Singing, music, and entertainment

  9. Serving and consuming food and drink

  10. Travel

  11. Guidance for venue managers

  12. NHS Test and Trace

  13. Enforcement

  14. Other guidance

Print this page This guidance is of a general nature and should be treated as a guide. In the event of any conflict between any applicable legislation (including health and safety legislation) and this guidance, the applicable legislation shall prevail. Introduction This guidance has been drafted on the basis of the scientific evidence available and will continue to be updated as set out in the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’, in line with the changing situation and as more data becomes available on COVID-19. Marriages and civil partnerships are a vital part of our society, uniting couples to start their new life together and affording certain legal rights. These ceremonies are often followed by receptions and other celebrations attended by guests that are known to one another. However, by their very nature, in bringing families and friends together, they are social events which are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 and restrictions have therefore been necessary to reduce the risk of transmission. The government has been working closely with stakeholders in the wedding industry and the Places of Worship Taskforce to consider how we are able to allow marriages and civil partnerships, including receptions and celebrations, to take place safely. Purpose of this guidance This guidance is designed to assist people planning to get married or form a civil partnership in England and venues that host ceremonies and receptions, to enable them to prepare for these events in accordance with the associated legislation. The guidance sets out how this can be done in a manner that is safe and in line with social distancing guidelines, in order to minimise the risk of exposure to infection for all individuals attending the event, including those who work at the venues. This guidance does not set out how to meet the requirements for a valid marriage, or civil partnership under the law of England and Wales, including any preliminary requirement as to where marriage and civil partnership ceremonies can be held. This guidance also does not cover urgent marriages or civil partnerships which require particular guidance from local authorities. This guidance applies to all weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and formations taking place in England under the law of England and Wales, as well as wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations. Alternative wedding ceremonies that are not binding under the law of England and Wales, whether religious, belief based, blessings, or other forms of non-statutory ceremony, are also covered by this guidance, and subject to the same limits on the number of attendees as marriages and civil partnerships that are binding under the law of England and Wales. Those wishing to conduct them should also refer to other government guidance on gatherings. As alternative ceremonies do not take place under the law of marriage formation in England and Wales, they neither create a legally valid marriage nor confer the rights and protections that flow from one. A definition of alternative wedding ceremonies is contained with the COVID-19 regulations. Those wishing to conduct a religious ceremony should refer to the places of worship guidance. Definitions for the purpose of this guidance ‘Alternative wedding ceremony’ A ceremony, including a ceremony based on a person’s faith or belief, or lack of belief, to mark the union of 2 people, but that is not legally binding under the law of England and Wales. ‘Household’ and ‘Support Bubble’ A household is a person or a group of people who live together in the same accommodation. A support bubble is a close support network which links 2 households. For further information on support bubbles, please refer to the guidance on making a support bubble with another household. ‘Marriages’ and ‘civil partnerships’ The ceremony of solemnisation of marriage or formation of a civil partnership which includes the usages or requirements for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding under the law of England and Wales and may include other elements (which are not legally required). ‘Must’ Where the guidance states that an activity must take place this is because it is a requirement under law. ‘Officiant’ A person acting in an official capacity. This could be a person with certain legal responsibilities at the ceremony, such as a registration official or authorised person, or a minister of religion solemnising the marriage. ‘Reception’ and ‘celebration’ A gathering of people to mark the occasion of the marriage or civil partnership of a couple, usually involving a sit-down meal. ‘Should’ Where the guidance states that an activity should take place this is not a legal requirement under law. However it is strongly advised that consideration is given to following the advice being provided to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. ‘Third-party supplier’ Any other individuals providing a service on site for receptions and celebrations. This can be either during the event itself, or prior to/following the event for the purposes of preparing and/or tidying up. ‘Venue’ This includes any location at which a legally binding marriage or civil partnership can take place. It also covers any location where an alternative wedding ceremony, wedding reception or civil partnership celebration can take place. ‘Venue managers’ The person or persons responsible for the management of a venue, including assessment of compliance with the following guidelines. ‘Visitor’, ‘attendee’ or ‘guest’ Individuals entering a venue for the purpose of attending a marriage, civil partnership formation, alternative wedding ceremony, reception or celebration. COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ setting out how COVID-19 restrictions will be eased in England, including a staged return of weddings, civil partnerships, receptions and celebrations. At each step anyone working is not included in the limit on the number of attendees for ceremonies or receptions. A decision on when to progress to each step will be guided by data not dates and the 4 tests set out in the roadmap. A week’s notice will be provided before any step is taken. Step 2 - until 17 May At Step 2, on 12 April, some of the rules on what you can and cannot do changed. However, many restrictions remain in place. Find out what you can and cannot do here. Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted to take place with up to 15 people in COVID-secure venues that are permitted to open or where a broader exemption applies. Receptions, celebrations and viewings Receptions can take place with up to 15 people in the form of a sit-down meal in any COVID-secure outdoor venue that is permitted to open (this does not include the gardens of private homes). During the reception, guests should remain seated in groups of 6 or 2 households. Outdoor venues may be partially sheltered, such as marquees, but cannot be enclosed or substantially enclosed. For example, at least 50% of the wall area of the marquee must be open for it to be considered outdoors. Viewings can take place in venues permitted in law to be open at each step, but must take place in accordance with social contact rules. At Step 2, this means that 1 household (including a linked support bubble, if eligible) can attend an indoor viewing at an open venue, such as a community centre or town hall. Step 3 - from 17 May Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will be permitted for up to 30 people in COVID-secure venues that are permitted to open. Alternative wedding ceremonies, and weddings under the law of England and Wales that are permitted to take place outdoors, with up to 30 people, including in COVID-secure venues or private gardens. Receptions, celebrations and viewings Receptions and celebrations will be permitted to take place with up to 30 people. They can take place either indoors in a COVID-secure venue (this does not include private homes), or outdoors (which does include private gardens). Although there is no requirement to be COVID-secure in a private garden, the organiser should take all reasonable steps to limit the risks of transmission and must adhere to the gathering limit of up to 30 people. If the event is taking place outdoors, it can be partially sheltered with, for example, a marquee, provided that at least 50% of the walled area remains open. A broader range of venues will be able to be open at this step, as set out in the roadmap. Any venue which is not required in law to remain closed will be able to host events and allow viewings with appropriate COVID-19 mitigation measures in place. This includes, for example, any restaurant or indoor visitor attraction. Step 4 - no earlier than 21 June At Step 4, the government aims to remove all limits on weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions. This will be subject to the outcome of the Social Distancing Review and also the Events Research Programme, which will include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other mitigations to run events of larger sizes. The pilots have been selected to examine the risks of transmission in a range of settings, venue types, and activity types (for example, seated or not seated, indoor or outdoor) so that findings may inform thinking on the reopening of all large events. Key principles National restrictions remain in place in England. There is different advice for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We understand the unique significance that marriages and civil partnerships hold in people’s lives, but it is important that we all continue to manage the risk of transmission. It is crucial that all staff, attendees and third-party suppliers visiting a wedding ceremony, civil partnership, reception, or celebration venue are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19. If either member of the couple has symptoms of COVID-19 the ceremony, reception or celebration should not go ahead. Anyone displaying symptoms should stay at home and get tested. If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 at a venue they should go home and be advised to follow the stay at home guidance. If they need clinical advice they should go online and access NHS online (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. They should not visit a GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital except for emergency access as above. People who may have been in contact with a person who has become unwell should wash their hands thoroughly after the interaction, but they do not need to take any other specific action unless they develop symptoms themselves or are advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace. If they do develop symptoms they should follow the stay at home guidance. Social distancing measures At Step 2, the advice remains that all individuals involved in the event (including attendees, guests, officiants and anyone working) should observe social distancing from those they do not live with, except where they are part of the same support bubble. This means adhering to a distance of at least 2 metres between households (or support bubbles), or 1 metre with risk mitigation (only where 2 metres is not viable). Attendees should be reminded at key points during the events to maintain social distancing and to avoid close contact with individuals from different households. Please note that the actual number of people able to attend a wedding or civil partnership ceremony or reception must not exceed the number limit that applies at each step, but will also be limited by how many people can be safely accommodated within the venue with social distancing, and where the venue manager has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Venue managers should consider and set out the mitigations that will be introduced in the risk assessment. These could include, for instance, avoiding any face-to-face seating by changing layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, using signs or floor markings to help people maintain social distance in frequently used areas, and closing non-essential social spaces, as outlined throughout this guidance. Tables must be 2 metres apart, or no less than 1 metre apart with risk mitigations if there are COVID-secure measures such as barriers, screens or other measures to limit transmission are taken. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within 2 metres). The further away you can keep from other people, and the less time you spend in close contact with them, the less likely you are to catch COVID-19 and pass it on to others. Close contact, includ