Ashbourne News Telegraph

Big weddings are back

- By News Telegraph Reporter

THE Prime Minister has cancelled his much-vaunted ‘Freedom Day on June 21, pushing back the final step of his Government’s coronaviru­s lockdown-easing roadmap by four weeks.

At a press conference in Downing Street, Boris Johnson confirmed the muchleaked decision that Step Four of easing restrictio­ns, which had been set for June 21, would be put off until July 19.

The move will come as a huge blow to the hospitalit­y sector in particular, which had urged the Government to press ahead with the June 21 date as planned. The move follows warnings from scientists that the rapid spread of the Indian variant risks a “substantia­l” third wave if it is allowed to spread unchecked.

He said he was “confident” that no more than four weeks will be needed and that restrictio­ns will not go beyond July 19.

“It’s unmistakab­ly clear the vaccines are working and the sheer scale of the vaccine rollout has made our position incomparab­ly better than in previous waves,” he said.

“But now is the time to ease off the accelerato­r, because by being cautious now we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinatin­g millions more people.”

The announceme­nt means continuing capacity limits for pubs, restaurant­s, sporting events, theatres and cinemas, with nightclubs still required to stay closed.

But the 30-person cap for wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as wakes, will be lifted from next week.

Hundreds will be able to attend weddings for the first time in months – as long as social distancing rules are followed.

After months of uncertaint­y for couples, the limit on the number of people allowed at weddings will be removed in England on June 21 - despite the delay in lockdown easing. Couples due to tie the knot will be allowed to invite the highest number of people venues can accommodat­e while still being Covid-secure. Restrictio­ns will also be lifted on weddings outdoors on private land, including in gardens, with organisers instead asked to complete a risk assessment.

However other restrictio­ns – including the ban on most singing and dancing, and guests having to wear masks at certain points – will remain in place for now.

Until restrictio­ns across England are fully lifted, people at an indoor wedding will need to stay on tables of no more than six people.

Indoor venues must also shut off their dance floors – apart from for the bride and groom’s “first dance”.

And any marquees on private land need to have two sides open to qualify as ‘outdoors.’

The rule of six indoors still also applies to weddings in private homes – except for deathbed weddings, which can have up to 30 guests.

The Prime Minister said that two of the four tests required for unlocking have not yet been met.

These are the tests on variants changing the risks and the risk of a “surge in hospitalis­ations which would put unsustaina­ble pressure on the NHS”.

Some businesses have warned the continued restrictio­ns might kill them off.

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Boris Johnson

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