How Do The Four Steps For Easing Lockdown Affect Weddings?
On 22nd February 2021, Boris Johnson made an announcement setting out his four steps to easing England’s lockdown for different parts of society and the economy. Boris Johnson says the lockdown will be eased in four steps with a minimum of five weeks between each step. While we await full guidance, below we explore how we believe weddings are affected in each step.
The Prime Minister hopes to be able to lift the majority of rules by 21 June, but this is dependent on cases, deaths and hospital admissions continuing to fall. The five week period between each step is to ensure four weeks for data to be gathered with at least 1 week notice if any changes need to made. Boris Johnson was clear that the decision to move into the next stage will be based on “data not dates” but gave a rough estimation as to when this might be at the earliest.
Small update: Although government guidance (section 105) suggests that weddings for six from 8th March are not restricted to exceptional circumstances only, BEIS and the General Register Office (GRO) have said that in line with the “stay at home” rule being in place until the 29th of March, wedding ceremonies for 6 people will be exceptional circumstances only until the 29th of March. Ceremonies until this point are in exceptional circumstances only.
There will be no regional tier systems – England will be treated as one in the easing of lockdown.
Find the step or topic you want to read about:
- Step One: 8th March and from 29th March
- Step Two: from 12th April
- Step Three: from 17th May
- Step Four: from 21st June
- What tests must be passed to unlock each step?
From 8th March, all schools will open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Recreation in outdoor public spaces – such as a park – will be allowed between two people, meaning they would be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic. Wedding ceremonies of 6 people in exceptional circumstances only.
From 29th March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. It is understood this will include gatherings in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, will also return. Wedding ceremonies of up to 6 people in all circumstances will be allowed.
What does Step 1 mean for weddings?
- Couples who simply wish to get married and have their small, legal ceremony will be able to do so from the 29th of March.
Step Two from 12 April would see a significant improvement for those planning weddings, if data allows:
- Weddings and receptions with up to 15 guests permitted.
- Non-essential retail opens, hairdressers, and public buildings like libraries and museums
- Outdoor settings, like alcohol takeaways and beer gardens, open.
- Indoor leisure, like swimming pools and gyms, open.
- Self-contained holiday accommodation, such as self-catering lets and campsites, open, but for one household only.
- The end of hospitality curfews and requirements to eat a substantial meal alongside alcohol.
- But wider social contact rules will continue to apply in all settings – meaning no indoor mixing between different households will be allowed.
What does Step 2 mean for weddings?
- Those getting married can use professional services for their hair, makeup and nail appointments.
- Bridal boutiques will be open
- Bridal alterations and fitting appointments
- Menswear and hire wear will be open
- Jewellers will be open
- You’ll be able to have a staycation honeymoon in self-contained holiday accommodation.
From the experts
This roadmap starts to give a little more clarity on numbers that are likely to be permitted at weddings over the next few months. We eagerly await more detailed guidance on exactly what those weddings might look like.Alison Hargreaves, Wedding industry expert and Guides for Brides CEO
The third step will come from 17 May, if the data allows, and sees more improvements:
- Weddings and wedding receptions will be allowed with 30 people.
- Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted, but gatherings of more than 30 will be illegal.
- Indoors, the rule of six or a larger group of up to two households will be allowed.
- Indoor hospitality – pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, hotels, B&Bs, indoor exercise classes – will be allowed.
What does Step 3 mean for weddings?
- We hope this implies less social distancing restrictions for outdoor ceremonies and receptions
- Guests will be able to stay in hotels before and after the event
The fourth step from 21 June will potentially see all legal limits on social contact removed, with the final closed sectors of the economy reopened – such as nightclubs. The government hopes that – from this date – restrictions on weddings and other social gatherings will be abolished.
What does Step 4 mean for weddings?
- We are incredibly hopeful that this will allow for larger weddings over multiple days
- It is too early to be certain, but the implications are that music, dancing and hugging will be part of weddings again.
It is important to note that from April, the government will run pilots for large events such as weddings, festivals and work conferences. It is hoped that these pilots will help to work out how measures (e.g. enhanced testing) may allow for larger gatherings without social distancing.
The four conditions that must be met at each phase of lockdown easing are:
- The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan. The Prime Minister announced the stretch target of all adults being offered their first vaccine by July 2021
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions.
- New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.
All dates are “from” and are shown as the earliest date that we will reach each stage in opening.
The Prime Minister’s intention is that this is an irreversible and one-way roadmap out of lockdown. This should give couples the confidence to plan at last. We would encourage you to read the official documentation from the government website to ensure you are fully informed before making any decisions about your wedding.
If you feel that your wedding cannot go ahead, our advice on postponements may be helpful to you.
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