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After Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation in February with the four stage plan to ease the country out of coronavirus restrictions, many couples sought to book their big day for dates after April 12th after months of delays and uncertainty.
However, the UK Weddings Taskforce, a group set up with the government to help restart the industry, has received confirmation that weddings and receptions will openly be permitted for 15 guests between April 12 and May 16 in places of worship, public buildings, locations and outdoor settings that are already permitted to open.
It was previously believed by the group that all wedding venues would be allowed to open again when ceremonies were permitted in the second lockdown 'step'.
However, the small print means the vast majority of England's licensed wedding venues, where over 70 per cent of weddings take place, will be unable to conduct any ceremonies booked during this periods.
The Taskforce estimates this news affects around 7,000 weddings planned before 17th May.
A statement issued by the UK Weddings Taskforce reads: "The Weddings Taskforce has been seeking clarity over inconsistencies and ambiguities between the roadmap announcements published 24th February by the Cabinet Office.
"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. A fact the Prime Minster overlooked in his Q&A on Sunday when attempting to explain the disparity between weddings and other events in Step 3 of the roadmap."
Weddings Taskforce spokeswoman Sarah Haywood said of the confusion: "Reasonably, people such as venues, couples, businesses, and registrars interpreted the road map announcement as wedding venues could host weddings and receptions for 15, as last year, from April 12.
"That great news - headlined in Government-produced graphics - was also picked up by mainstream press and broadcasters and quoted by MPs. Government just forgot to caveat it with 'but only weddings for 15 in a very few, select places which one would not usually associate with hosting weddings.'"
Sarah also pointed to the fact this fine print could mean yet more trouble for the wedding business, which has been left crippled in the last year.
"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," she said.
"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.
"A couple could technically get married in a zoo, but not in a Covid-safe, purpose-built wedding venue."
Responding to the UK Weddings Taskforce, a spokesperson for Boris Johnson explained: "I would point to the road map which is clear that, at step two, weddings, receptions and commemorative events including wakes can take place with up to 15 attendees in premises that are permitted to open.
"We have said throughout that outdoors is safer than indoors. That means, at step two - which is no earlier than April 12 - wedding receptions must take place outdoors."
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock
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