From Monday 14 September, it became illegal for people in England to meet socially in groups of more than six, with a few exemptions. The aim of the new rules was to stop a second wave of coronavirus, following a rise in cases across the country.
But there were certain settings that were exempt from this “rule of six”, one being wedding ceremonies, which were still permitted to have 30 people present.
On Tuesday 22 September, Boris Johnson addressed the nation again to introduce new restrictions. This included a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, encouraging people to work from home where possible, and a slight change to “rule of six” exemptions.
This also included weddings, which previously had been left at the higher cap of 30 people.
Then, on Monday 12 October, the prime minister announced its new three-tier system, categorising areas depending on their Covid-19 risk introduced further measures, meaning the rules around weddings were left up in the air again.
Whilst the Government has not yet announced what this will mean for weddings, areas marked as High Alert or Very High Alert are not allowed to mix indoors with other households, which would make a wedding ceremony difficult to organise.
What were the new rules on social gatherings introduced earlier this month?
As of Monday 14 September, the number of people allowed to legally meet was cut from 30 to six in England.
The new rule applied to both indoor and outdoor gatherings and to people of all ages.
Previously, up to 30 people from two households were permitted to meet socially, or six from various households.
However, the changes meant that people could no longer socialise in homes, parks, pubs, and restaurants in groups of more than six.
Mr Johnson told a press conference on 9 September: “We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact – making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce.
“It is absolutely critical that people now abide by these rules and remember the basics – washing your hands, covering your face, keeping space from others, and getting a test if you have symptoms.”
Anyone caught socialising in groups larger than six in England will be fined. On Tuesday 22 September, the prime minister announced that the fine for a first offence would be doubled to £200.
Do the new changes to restrictions apply to weddings?
The government had said weddings came under the exemption category for the rule of six.
However, on Tuesday 22 September, the prime minister announced a further restriction on the number of people allowed to attend wedding ceremonies across the country.
Mr Johnson announced that the number of attendees at wedding ceremonies and receptions in England would be further reduced from 30 to 15, in a move that will come into effect from Monday 28 September.
In a statement delivered in the Commons, the prime minister added that funeral ceremonies would still be permitted to allow 30 guests.
What other rules do people need to follow at weddings?
While in attendance at weddings, people who are not part of the same household or support bubble should continue to adhere to social distancing rules.
While wedding receptions are allowed to take place in England, they can only do so in a Covid-19 secure venue. Such events should not take place in people’s private homes or gardens, given that these will not have the same safety measures in place.
The government advises that wherever possible all food and drinks should be served by staff, in line with the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services and that dancing should not be permitted due to the increased risk of transmission.