Coronavirus lockdown: Marriage ban lifted but no big celebrations

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Bride wearing a maskImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Ceremonies can go ahead from 22 June, but must remain socially distanced

A lockdown ban on weddings and civil partnerships in Wales will be lifted from Monday - but there will be no big celebrations allowed.

The announcement was added to new rules published by the Welsh Government.

However, the ban on social gatherings remain, as do social distancing rules.

Invited wedding guests can now also travel any distance to be at a ceremony - but services must be small enough to stay safe.

It comes as easing other restrictions in Wales mean non-essential shops will also reopen on Monday.

The new wedding measures follow calls from couples to marry, even if it means a ceremony with just witnesses and a registrar.

It prompted 22-year-old Elizabeth Facer and her fiancé Ian Choi, 22, from Cardiff to launch a petition after being forced to abandon their plans for a wedding with 300 guests.

"I think sometimes in society it's seen as a bit of a party, and that's one of the things that's difficult to communicate," explained Ms Facer.

"We're not asking for a party, we're asking to be able to get married."

The changes include a provision for travel outside of a local area to a venue to "attend a solemnization of a marriage or formation of a civil partnership".

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies can go ahead, but only in places of worship and register offices, and if they choose to open.

This means that other venues, such as hotels, cannot be used for these ceremonies.

When it updated its coronavirus regulations last week, the Welsh government said all weddings and civil partnerships could now proceed, subject to social distancing.

But it has now clarified that this only applies to places of worship, such as churches and register offices.

It brings it into line with the rules on attending funerals, where the number of mourners has been severely restricted by venue sizes.

Changes from Monday, 22 June:

Image source, Getty Images
  • Non-essential retail shops can reopen
  • Private prayer in places of worship, where social distancing is maintained and is not a gathering
  • House viewings to take place in vacant properties
  • House moves where a sale has been agreed but not yet completed
  • Lifting the restrictions on outdoor sports courts but no contact or team sports will be allowed
  • Non-professional elite athletes, including Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, to resume training
  • Socially distanced local marriage and civil partnerships can take place

The change of heart on marriage and partnership ceremonies follows moves to relax other restrictions, including changes to allow private prayer in places of worship.

It will also mean sports such as tennis can be played for the first time since the covid restrictions were introduced in March.

However, First Minister Mark Drakeford has asked the Welsh public to adhere to the stay local message for another two weeks.

He used the Welsh Government's daily briefing on Friday to state the movement rule would be lifted on 6 July, as long as cases of coronavirus continued to fall.