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‘Are people really going to listen and social distance?’ Asian wedding venues prepare to host more guests

Wedding venue owners have spoken of their concerns of ‘policing social distancing’ after the government delayed the easing of coronavirus restrictions One Accrington venue did however insist they would be ‘shutting the doors’ once their capacity had been reached.

The cap of 30 guests for wedding ceremonies and receptions will be lifted, the Prime Minister has confirmed on June 21. That means those who have booked weddings after that date can still hold them but they must have social distancing rules in place at the venue.

As with current rules for funerals, the number of attendees will be determined by how many people the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.

However, food and drink must be ordered, served and consumed by guests seated at a table, and dancing indoors is still not permitted, except for the couple’s first dance.

A typical Asian wedding will have several hundred guests. The industry like many others has been hit hard by the pandemic and smaller weddings have not been feasible for businesses who have always looked to cater for larger events. Many families have delayed weddings in the hope that restrictions would be lifted.

There was particular concern for wedding venue managers who said they would have to ‘police social distancing’ themselves.

One wedding venue owner who did not wish to be named greeted the delay with a sense of trepidation.

“In some ways it is good news for everyone who has booked a wedding.

“But I want to know are they going to police this? It is hard enough for us as a venue to tell people what to do.

“I would rather be just told that this is the number you can have in a building and we all have to stick to it.

“Are we going to get raided by the Covid police? Are they going to count the number of people inside the building? I can see a whole lot of problems for wedding venues already.

“You tell people that you can only have so many people but do they always listen?”

Sarah of Al Hamza Banqueting Hall, Accrington said they had taken huge care in ensuring they had Covid safety measures in place. The venue is set over two floors and offers a range of bespoke wedding services.

She said: “Even when we opened last September for a period we worked with the council and invited them in to study our safety measures.

“We have been very stringent and particular from the outset. As we re-open for larger events we will be checking everyone who enters and will, if have to, close the door once capacity has been reached. We just can’t risk doing otherwise for the safety of our staff and other guests.”

Sarah agreed it would be difficult for venue owners to force people to social distance but she was pleased that wedding venues could eventually open up to larger numbers.

“We can only try our best and urge guests to work with us.

“I feel more positive right now than before as we didn’t expect there to be any changes to the rulings at all.”

A Blackburn wedding owner said he had hosted weddings for up to 30 people but could extend that up to 125 now.

He said: “We have a capacity for 250 so we can look to host have half that number in. It is easier for the big venues but for us this has left us in a precarious situation.

“Are people really going to listen to us when we tell them to stay seated or keep their social distance?

“What if I force someone and people take it wrong the wrong way? People’s attitudes to social distancing now has changed completely.”

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