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Revealed: new rules for weddings after England's covid-19 lockdown
29 June 2020, 16:41
The government has published new coronavirus guidelines for weddings in England, including large receptions being banned completely and couples washing their hands before exchanging rings.
The advice for England states that no more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership from July 4, and social distancing rules must be obeyed.
As part of the lockdown imposed in March, all social events were stopped - including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies.
Receptions or parties after weddings should not take place, but small celebrations - with groups of up to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors - will be permitted.
Small weddings are currently allowed in the other nations of the UK, which set their own lockdown rules.
But what will the "new normal" for weddings look like?
How many people can attend?
Under new guidelines, wedding and civil partnerships can go ahead but with only 30 people including the couple, staff such as a photographer and witnesses.
People should socially distance, meaning they should be two metres apart as much as possible, or one metre with added safety measures.
Venues frequently used for weddings should mark the floor with tape or paint to help people maintain social distancing.
Will receptions be allowed?
Services should be concluded in the "shortest reasonable time" and "stick to the parts that are legally binding".
Receptions are not advised, and should be small, with only two households able to meet indoors.
However, no food and drink can be consumed as part of the event.
Government advice also suggests changing traditional wedding layouts to avoid face-to-face seating, improving ventilation or using face masks.
Can music still be played?
The rules on singing, speaking and playing music are laid out in the guidance.
Speaking during the ceremony, for example saying the responses to the vows, should not be in a raised voice.
Singing should also not take place because of the potential for increased risk of Covid-19 transmission from aerosol and droplets. Instead of singing, recordings are suggested.
Playing instruments that are blown is not advised for the same reasons.
Shouting or playing music at a volume that means people have to raise their voice should also be avoided.
When singing or chanting is required, only one person is allowed to take part and the couple or venue are advised to install a clear screen for this.
Hymn books should be quarantined for 48 hours after use.
What else won't be allowed?
Hands must be washed before the rings are exchanged.
The guidance states: "Where the exchanging of rings is required or desired for the solemnisation of the marriage or the formation of the civil partnership, hands should be washed before and after.
"The rings should be handled by as few people as possible."