Thousands of weddings will have to be cancelled, the industry is warning, accusing the government of crushing hopes of restrictions being lifted next month.
A “weddings taskforce” had expected all venues to reopen from 12 April – but says it has been told that ceremonies will only be allowed in places of worship and a small number of public buildings.
No fewer than 71 per cent of weddings take place in hotels and other venues, it is warning, suggesting 7,000 planned celebrations will have to be postponed or scrapped in a single month.
“The roadmap indicated weddings and receptions could resume on 12 April,” said spokesperson Sarah Haywood.
“We have now discovered, not by being offered the information but by analysing the small print and repeatedly seeking clarity, that this is not the case.”
Downing Street has been asked if the taskforce is correct to believe that most typical wedding venues will remain barred after 12 April, the next roadmap review date.
The taskforce – set up by the government – said 60,000 businesses employing 400,000 people, in a £14.7bn industry, was “grappling with further uncertainty and growing unrest”.
Many couples who had already been forced to postpone their weddings multiple times now faced further disappointment.
“After a year of uncertainty for businesses, their employees and over half a million people whose weddings have been on hold, this is yet another major blow,” Ms Haywood added.
“It will cost the industry – already on its knees – millions of pounds, lead to the loss of more jobs and leave an estimated 7,000 couples without a wedding.”
The dispute appears to have blown up because documents published alongside last month’s roadmap are ambiguous and contradictory.
It was announced that, “not before” 12 April, “the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15”.
It was also stated that “weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open)”.
The taskforce says this was widely interpreted as a reopening of all venues – and that the government has only now indicated, after weeks of being asked, that this will not be the case.
Instead, weddings will be restricted to places of worship and some public buildings – putting 7,000 planned ceremonies in jeopardy before the next review date, of 17 May.
Ms Haywood also attacked the absurdity of the rules, saying: “A couple could technically get married in a zoo, but not in a Covid-safe, purpose-built wedding venue.”
After that date, it is anticipated that “up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes” and indoor hospitality will reopen.
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