World leaders meeting in Cornwall for the G7 summit have been labelled as hypocrites for attending outdoor events with food and drink when such activities are forbidden under current rules in the UK for weddings.
It is expected that Boris Johnson will on Monday announce a delay to “Freedom Day”, which was initially scheduled for June 21.
The wedding industry has said such a delay would be extraordinarily damaging and sound the death knell of the sector.
Sarah Haywood, a wedding planner and spokesperson for The UK Weddings Taskforce says the scenes from the G7, where politicians, aides and an accompanying media scrum mingle while taking refreshments, would breach current rules if the same thing was to happen at a wedding.
“They’re doing things that would not be allowed at a wedding, the hypocrisy!” she told The Telegraph.
Ursula von der Leyen, Emmanuel Macron, Charles Michel, Angela Merkel and Mario Draghi in Carbis Bay
Credit: Ludovic Marin/AFP
Restrictions on weddings have been in place since March 2020, with all ceremonies either cancelled or limited to just 30 people.
Mark Dawson of the Wedding Venue Support Group says the 30 capacity figure was based on a hunch from scientists due to a lack of solid scientific evidence available last year, but no empirical data has been provided to back up the figure since.
“We, in the sector, feel there hasn’t been any trust. There has not been a proper grown-up conversation with the sector throughout,” he told The Telegraph.
He says the arbitrary limit should be the first restriction to be scrapped and instead suggests a percentage of each venue’s capacity should be used instead, if some restrictions are kept in any new guidance.
“Eighty people can sit inside a pub, but if you put a bride and groom in there, you can only have 30 in there, it doesn’t make sense and there’s no scientific evidence to back it up,” he said.
“It feels like we went backwards since we were vaccinated. How long can we keep going? The impact on the sector of any delay now is just extraordinary. With where all the venues are at, they will fall over like ninepins. They are on the brink.”
Analysts at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have found that if Mr Johnson does push the June 21 freedom date back by four weeks, it will lead to a £55 million hit per day to the economy, totalling around £1.6 billion.
The beleaguered hospitality industry will suffer the lion’s share of the hit, it warns – equal to around one per cent of overall monthly growth.
Kay Neufeld, head of forecasting at the CEBR, said: “The Government needs to acknowledge that most of the economic pain will once again be borne by those businesses that have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic so far – pubs, restaurants, night clubs and many other businesses in the hospitality and cultural sectors are desperate to reopen.”
“I think the Government has an obligation to honour the repeated assurances they gave this sector that we were on track for June 21 and while we appreciate the new variant has emerged, the wedding sector can play its part in keeping people as safe as possible,” Ms Haywood said.
“We are not asking for special treatment, we are asking for what many others are allowed to do.”
Professor Lawrence Young, of Molecular Oncology, told The Telegraph that celebrations with a mixture of indoor and outdoor hospitality may be the best solution.
“Weddings post June 21 is a difficult one. My view is that they should be allowed to go ahead with appropriate precautions – outdoors as much as possible, indoors with social distancing and good ventilation, and wearing face masks when not seated,” he said.
“I know that this might limit very large weddings but with the better weather it might be possible to have hybrid events using both indoor and outdoor seating.
“I think we could lift the 30 people limit for some hybrid events, recognising the need to maintain social distancing where possible, ensuring indoor activities take place in well-ventilated spaces and that face masks are worn indoors when folk aren’t seated.”
A government spokesperson said: “We know how disruptive the pandemic has been to couples and the wider wedding industry, but we have to ensure that we are putting the safety of the British public first and that is why it is right to continue to look at the latest data.
“We have already issued straightforward, clear and accessible guidance for those holding weddings and receptions under current guidelines and continue to work closely with the sector."
Sarah Branigan, 33, of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, is facing uncertainty about her wedding to James Goodchild, 35, at Kings Chapel, Old Amersham:
"We were set to get married on the 18th of April last year, but that was weeks into lockdown so it had to be postponed.
We made the choice then to move it to July 10 this year. We were hoping everything would have been sorted by then. Obviously that was not the case.
We’ve also had a baby – she’s four weeks old.
Initially we were going to have 120 people with 150 in the evening. When lockdown happened we made the decision to reduce numbers to 90 and an extra 50 in the evening, so 140.
Now we’re back to 30 people.
The most frustrating thing is if they just said ‘This is what it’s going to be’ that’s fine, but it keeps changing. It’s incredibly frustrating it gets leaked through the media before it’s decided. It’s all very stressful.
We’ll get married on July 10 no matter what. It’s about working out a list without upsetting family and the politics that goes with it. I’ve got a really large family.
We don’t want to be sitting in this room that holds 120 when there might only be 30 people.
The frustration for me is that we got engaged two years ago now. We planned out what it was going to be like and it gets taken away from us.
I have a friend who has moved their wedding five times. It’s not consistent. Thousands went to the cricket and Wimbledon is increasing its capacity. I just fail to see the logic.
At least we will have a new baby bridesmaid at the wedding."
Ste Allen at the Middlesbrough Empire music venue says staff need to know if they have jobs:
"We haven’t been able to open whatsoever since last year. We’ve been gearing up to reopen with June 21 in mind and we’ve been hiring staff.
We’ve ordered a lot of new stock to open on June 21. We have had to spend the last weeks and months trying to staff the venue up. That’s bar staff and glass collection staff.
It does make it difficult because we do employ freelance musicians, theatre acts, circus performers, drag acts. All of those artists were looking forward to coming back to work.
It kind of puts them in a limbo position. It’s tough on them.
I think across the board I have heard my manager say there’s no point crying over spilled milk. The safety of everyone is paramount. But we have been gearing for the past months and by delaying – it’s a bit deflating for everyone, from DJs to performers.
We just want things to be clearer. When the June 21 deadline was set a lot of eyebrows were raised.
I think if they pick another date on Monday it’s up to them to be more communicative over the weeks to make sure the businesses affected by that are really informed.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for venues that have been shut for months.
When venues are booking staff and telling people they can start on a certain date, it’s a bit unfair.
The lack of communication leaves us all a bit rudderless."