On Sunday 10 May 2020, the UK Government changed the COVID-19 slogan from “Stay At Home” to “Stay Alert”. The UK Government has been faced with difficult questions surrounding a balance between maintaining public health and restarting the economy. What is clear from this evening’s announcement is that the social distancing measures and the current ban on public gathering is here to stay until further notice.
The Prime Minister said that some aspects of the hospitality sector may start to open in July 2020. However, it is important to stress that this is conditional on the rates of infection dropping. In the event of a relaxation in the rules applicable to the hospitality sector, it is unclear how wide such a relaxation will go, but it could stretch to restaurants and some hotels. The Prime Minister said that COVID-19 has had a “colossal cost to our way of life” and going forward there will be a “COVID Secure Standard”. Reference was made to a “Work Place COVID Secure Standard” and it is quite likely that the weeks and months ahead will see an “Event based COVID Secure Standard”.
At this stage, it is not clear what an “ Event based COVID Secure Standard” looks like for the wedding and events industry but possible options could include:
- Reduced number of guests being allowed within a certain sized venue.
- Discouraging high risk and vulnerable members to attend.
- Guests being asked to temperature test before giving their RSVP.
- Venues and suppliers using the outdoors as much as possible to host various aspects of the wedding or event.
- Extra hygiene regulations applicable to caterers and food handlers.
- Masks being used where a safe distance cannot be maintained.
- A minimum number of hand sanitisers being placed around the venue.
If and when weddings resume later in the year, the guest list may include people coming from abroad. However, we have learn that those coming to the UK by air will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Therefore, this could hinder the arrival of foreign guests or may require guests to plan their trips to factor in a 14-day quarantine period. It is understood that this only relates to those travelling by “air”. Therefore, if there is an opportunity to travel to the UK by car or train, such a restriction may not apply. More details in relation to the quarantining will no doubt follow.
Finally, we are told that different areas of the UK, may have local flare ups. In turn this could impact the “COVID Alert Level” in each area. It could also mean that the location of the event venue could have a different Alert Level compared to the town or city where many of the guests may be travelling from. Therefore, consumers and suppliers will need to ensure some flexibility and versatility is adopted in case there is a sudden change to the Alert Level as the wedding/event day draws closer.
We will keep you updated with our commentary as we learn more about. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can assist with your legal issues surrounding a wedding booking.