There is one very special occasion that joins families together and forms the foundation of our society – and that is a wedding. An event that normally brings together many people, the pandemic over the last year has been especially hard on couples, families and the wedding industry as a whole.
While other hospitality businesses have sometimes enjoyed a brief respite from the worst effects of the pandemic, wedding venues which rely on mass gatherings of more than 30 people, have been restricted continuously since the beginning of the pandemic to protect against Covid.
The Government has put together unprecedented support for business, including employment support and furlough schemes, grants and loans, which have been welcome and much needed. However, the unique nature of the wedding sector has meant it has really suffered, with a lot of people understandably deferring their weddings until after the pandemic due to the uncertainty of Covid brings. I therefore welcome the road map that the Government published mid-March for weddings and hospitality – it is incredibly helpful for businesses and families.
While weddings in non-exceptional circumstances are allowed from this week, only six people, including the couple, will be able to attend. But restrictions will be gradually lifted over time. However, outdoor receptions with more than 30 guests, and any indoor receptions at all, will have to wait until at least June 21st. So, for wedding venues and companies that rely on them, like external caterers and wedding bands, the end of the pandemic, while in sight, remains some way off. They are likely to be one of the last parts of hospitality to fully open, but ensuring that restrictions are lifted at the right time is key – we cannot risk a resurgence in Covid cases, depriving more couples of their day.
That’s why it is so important that we recognise the struggles of this unique and special sector, and also why I proposed in Parliament last week more support for the industry.
Issues are arising regarding scheduling weddings in the future, with reports that couples are struggling to secure a date of their choice. So, it’s not just a matter of getting back to normal, it’s about going faster than normal so that in the near future, couples aren’t waiting years to tie the knot, or end up choosing to get married abroad.
And so I’ve asked the Government to look for more ways to help this sector and proposed that less popular days for weddings could be promoted through Government support similar to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
We will get this virus under control. And once that happens, I will look forward to seeing weddings back for good and couples and families coming together and celebrating those special moments.