Wedding loophole chaos as couples face £10,000 fines for not filling out risk forms

Wedding loophole chaos as couples face £10,000 fines for not filling out risk forms

NEWLYWEDS have been warned they face being slapped with fines of up to £10,000 on their Big Day if they don't enforce social distancing.

Under new rules marriage ceremonies and receptions must have a Covid risk assessment or they'll be classed as illegal mass gatherings.

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This week Boris Johnson lifted the cap on attendance, which stood at 30 friends and family, as he slammed the brakes on the end of lockdown.

But wedding venues still have to comply with social distancing, meaning many couples still face having to dramatically cut their guest list.

Other rules such as mask wearing, no dancing, and only six people per table also remain in place until at least July 19.

That led to concerns many couples could decide to holding their ceremonies at home or in marquees on private land in a bid to get around the rules.

And initially there appeared to be a legal loophole which would have allowed those weddings to go ahead without social distancing in place.

But now ministers have published a new warning to couples that the ban on illegal mass gatherings will apply such events.

Under current restrictions £10,000 fines can be issued to those organising gatherings of more than 50 people outdoors or 30 indoors.

The new rules state: "If you host your event in a venue that is not a Covid-secure venue, such as a garden of a private home and you plan to have more than 30 guests, you must complete a risk assessment.

"You should consider the risks associated with your event and work out how to minimise them. This will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect people attending.

"You must write down the risks and the actions you will take to minimise them in a risk assessment document.

"A risk assessment is a document that records the risks associated with your event and will help you identify how to manage them."

The advice says couples must look at possible risk factors, such as "a bathroom which can only be accessed via one route".

They should also take into account "if any of your guests, or anyone working at the event, are clinically extremely vulnerable".

Other recommended actions include making sure there is plenty of ventilation and hand-washing facilities are available.

Officials warn: "You could get a £10,000 fine for organising a gathering of more than 50 people outdoors or 30 people indoors, if you do not consider the risks, conduct a risk assessment and take action to minimise the risk.

"This is required in law. You should keep your risk assessment for at least 28 days after your event."

It comes after Boris Johnson announced traditional big white weddings will finally make a return on June 21.

But while the strict limit of 30 guests will lift at long last, a ban on dancing will remain – and face masks have to stay on indoors.

News that weddings won't be limited to just a handful of guests will likely come as a huge relief to couples who have had to postpone their nuptials during the lockdowns.

Instead, venues will be allowed to choose their own restrictions, with social distancing still a factor.

But it's tough news for wedding DJs – as a spin around the dance floor is still banned indoors, and advised against outdoors, with the exception of the bride and groom.

Communal singing will also be barred as it aids transmission of the virus – meaning hymns are out.

Choirs, bands, or musicians may perform in a group of up to six indoors, or up to 30 outdoors.

However, couples won't have to face torturous decisions over which family members can attend, as rather than imposing tough limits, venues will be allowed to make their own decisions about how many people are on the invite list.

Weddings on private land, including in gardens, will also have caps lifted, with the Government trusting the newly-weds to make decisions on safety.

And health chiefs say masks should be worn indoors while moving around – while wedding buffets are out, with table service recommended instead.

Guests who don't cover their faces could face a £200 fine.

There must also be no more than six guests at a table to keep the Rule of Six in place.

And speeches should take place outside or in well-ventilated areas wherever possible.

In May, a cap was lifted on the number of mourners allowed to attend a funeral after images of the Queen sitting alone at her husband's service were seen by millions around the world.

But it's taken another month for a decision to be reached on weddings.

Answering a question from a bride-to-be who has twice delayed her wedding, Mr Johnson said he was "very, very sorry".

"I'm sorry for all the disappointment that's going to be caused by going a bit slower," he said.

"What we are saying is that weddings can go ahead with more than 30 people. We are lifting that restriction on 30 people from June 21, providing social distancing is observed.

"I'm sorry for the disappointment this will certainly bring to weddings, to many, many businesses, but I think it's a few weeks that's worth it to get those jabs in."

Engaged couples have been keeping their fingers crossed since health minister Ed Argar suggested this morning that big marriages would be back on.

MORE GUESTS – BUT NO DANCING

He said Boris, who tied the knot with Carrie 16 days ago, is "very mindful" thousands of Brits have made plans and is desperate not to ruin them.

And he said ministers are aware the last year has been "hugely distressing" for loved-up couples.

He added: "I’ve got constituents in this situation, as will all other MPs, who have had to postpone their wedding in some cases not once but twice, and of course the financial costs that can go with that. 

"I know that is something the PM will be very mindful of, he’ll be very sensitive to the situation that those individuals or couples find themselves in."




Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he'll back the plan to ease restrictions on wedding ceremonies.

Boris offered up the deal as a glimmer of good news on a gloomy day for freedom-yearning Brits.

He confirmed England’s lockdown is extended to July 19, with an option of lifting it two weeks earlier.

It comes as the number of Indian/Delta strain cases continues to shoot up.

However, the PM would not promise the month-long delay would be the last.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, echoed his words and said no guarantee could be given as “we are dealing with variants”.

He told Times Radio that the country must not “yo-yo back in and out of measures”.

Conservative MPs and business chiefs hit out at the decision to extend lockdown. Rebel Steve Baker urged fellow Tories to oppose it.

Issuing a Great Escape-style appeal, he wrote: “It is the sworn duty of all officer to try to escape.”

UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls said a month’s delay would cost businesses £3billion and see 180,000 jobs lost.

She said if one was necessary to meet vaccination targets, it should be “full and final”.

Infectious diseases specialist Dr Andrew Hayward said a substantial third wave of cases was starting to crash over the UK. He said opening up would “fan the flames”, causing it to spread faster.

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