‘Wash the rings’: The rules in full for getting married after July 4
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Couples hoping to tie the knot once weddings are allowed to resume face shorter services, social distancing restrictions and no wedding reception under the new guidelines.
On Monday, the government set out how marriages and civil partnerships can be carried out while maintaining social distance and minimising the risk of exposure to infection for those attending and working at venues.
Here is how wedding services will look for the time being from July 4 as couples and venues plan how they can allow big days to go ahead.
How can I get married?
Firstly the guidelines only apply to marriages or civil partnerships taking place in England, but couples will be able to get married in gatherings of up to 30 people from July 4.
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The gatherings can only occur in certain public places and licensed venues where legal marriage ceremonies can take place.
Social distancing of two metres, or one metre with risk mitigations, are acceptable.
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Can I have a wedding reception?
The guidance strongly advises any receptions that follow or accompany marriage or civil partnerships should not take place at this time.
Small celebrations should only take place if following social distancing guidelines which currently is limited to groups of up to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors.
What can happen in the service?
If attended by people from different households, social distancing should be maintained.
This may require marriages or civil partnerships to be adapted to remove practices that would otherwise have brought people into contact with one another, unless required for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding. Where this is the case precautions should be put in place to minimise contact and ensure the time frame is as short as possible.
Visitors should avoid touching property belonging to others, such as shoes which, if removed, should be placed and collected by their owner while adhering to social distancing principles.
No food or drink should be consumed as a part of the event unless required,
In the exchange or rings hands should be washed before and after and the rings handled by as few people as possible.
Where an infant is involved in proceedings a parent/guardian or member of the infant’s household should hold the child.
Can I have music?
Singing, chanting and use of musical instruments should be in the most case avoided to avoid the risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets, even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings used.
Spoken responses during services should not be at a raised voices and communal singing should not happen at this time, with couples advised to use recordings.
Where required in a service, only one individual should be permitted to sing or chant. The use of plexi-glass screens should be considered to protect guests, as this will further prevent transmission and the screen can be easily cleaned.
Musical instruments that are not blown into, such as organs, can be played for a ceremony, but should be cleaned thoroughly before and after use.
Who can attend the wedding?
No group of people have been told they cannot attend a service, unless they or someone in their household feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms.
The guidance issues advice for those shielding, over the age of 70, to follow current measures to stay at home as much as possible or advised to do so under the shielding measures. If they do go out they should minimise contact with others outside their household.
Those with young children should ensure they maintain social distancing and frequently wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds.
If either member of the couple have symptoms of COVID-19 the ceremony should not go ahead.
I am a venue owner or operator - where do I stand?
Those operating venues should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public and prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place.
At present, legally-valid ceremonies or formations are strongly advised to go ahead only where they can be done in a COVID-19 secure environment.
The guidelines advise services should be kept as short as possible and limited as reasonably possible to the parts of the ceremonies that are required in order for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding.
No more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership, where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue.
Operating venues will need a risk assessment setting out its mitigation which could include avoiding any face-to-face seating by changing layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, and closing non-essential social spaces, as outlined throughout this guidance.
In the case of children’s facilities, all furnishings and toys that are hard to clean should be removed.
Outdoor playgrounds are permitted to open where venue managers risk assess that it is safe to do so.
Attention should be paid to cleaning frequently touched surfaces by children and those that are at child height.