On 23 June, the Prime Minister has announced further changes to lockdown measures in England. This will be accompanied by sectoral guidance on Covid-19 lockdown measures which will be uploaded to the government’s webpage.
Weddings Resume Subject to Social Distancing Rules
One of the major changes that many couples, suppliers and wedding photographers in the UK have been looking forward to is the reopening of places of worship, prayer and ceremonial services, including weddings.
Thus, weddings, civil partnerships and marriage registration ceremonies with a maximum of 30 people will be allowed to take place in England from 4 July 2020, as part of the easing of lockdown restrictions. All weddings, ceremonies and events are all subject to social distancing rules.
The government demands that only close friends and family up to a maximum of 30 people should be invited. The wedding exception is for wedding ceremonies only. Large wedding receptions or parties should not be taking place. Wedding celebrations can only happen when people follow the guidance of six people outdoors, support bubbles, or two households indoors or outdoors. It is critical for these guidelines to be observed to keep you and your family and friends as safe as possible.
Northern Ireland allowed only outdoors weddings and ceremonies with 10 people present since early June. While in Wales it is allowed now to hold wedding ceremonies, but social distancing must be observed, and large social gatherings and events are banned.
Weddings and marriage ceremonies in Scotland are currently on hold, although they have been allowed to take place only in exceptional circumstances (for example if one partner is ill).
Church of England shares draft guidelines for weddings
The House of Bishops COVID-19 recovery group has shared draft guidelines for when weddings, baptisms, funerals, and individual private prayer can recommence in church buildings.
At this stage draft guideline documents have been released only for planning purposes, so that everyone could prepare for the future. However, all guidance is subject to change following any future Government updates.
Further changes to lockdown measures in England from Saturday, 4 July 2020:
- Where it is possible to keep 2 metres apart people should, but where it is not, government will advise people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’, meaning they should remain one metre apart, while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.
- Two households of any size should be able to meet in any setting inside or out. This does not have to always be the same two households. However, the government are not recommending meetings of multiple households indoors because of the risk of creating greater chains of transmission. Outside, the guidance remains that people from several households can meet in groups of up to six. And it follows that two households can also meet, regardless of size.
- The government are permitting the re-opening of restaurants and pubs. All hospitality indoors will be limited to table-service, and the government guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.
- The hospitality sector will also be asked to collect data on customers using their services, to inform the test and trace service and help respond to localised outbreaks
- People will be able to stay in self-contained accommodation such as hotels and bed and breakfasts. Campsites, where shared facilities are kept clean, will also be permitted to open.
- Hairdressers, with appropriate precautions, including the use of visors will be permitted to re-open.
- Other leisure facilities will also be permitted to open from 4th July including outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks, arcades, libraries, social clubs and community centres.
- While theatres can reopen, performances to a live audience should not take place at this time. Theatres may broadcast performances. Government has set up a task force with the sector to establish a plan and timeline for how performing arts can reopen safely for both customers and performers.
- Recreation and sport will be allowed, but indoor facilities, including changing rooms and courts, will remain closed and people should only play close contact team sports with members of their household.
- Places of worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services – including weddings with a maximum of 30 people, all subject to social distancing.
The government also announced:
- “Close proximity” venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and water parks will need to remain closed for now. Taskforces will be established to help these venues become “COVID secure”.
- Courts, probation services, police stations and other public services will start to resume face-to-face proceedings.
- Wrap-around care for school age children and formal childcare will restart over the summer. Primary and secondary education will recommence in September with full attendance and those children who can already go to school because it is safe should do so
- There will be flare-ups of the virus for which local measures will be needed. Infrastructure in place to re-introduce restrictions at a national level if required.
Sector Specific Covid-19 Measures Guidance
The government is also publishing guidance on how a range of sectors can re-open from 4th July. The guidance will specifically outline how businesses can reduce the risk of transmission by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers.
The Prime Minster noted that this guidance will include advice on:
- avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts,
- reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces,
- improving ventilation,
- using protective screens and face coverings,
- closing non-essential social spaces,
- providing hand sanitiser
- and changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams.
- And of course, we already mandate face coverings on public transport.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and entering or returning to the UK
It is still not clear whether the 14-day self-isolation (quarantine) rule will be lifted from July 2020.
At the moment the every resident or visitor travelling to the UK must:
- provide your journey and contact details
- not leave the place of residence or stay for the first 14 days in the UK except in very limited situations
More details on 14-day self-isolation rules and penalties can be found on the government’s webpage.