The Irish Hotels Federation said this could allow social distancing to take place.
THE PRESIDENT OF the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has said relating the number of wedding guests allowed to the size of the venue is one option that should be considered to allow social distancing to take place.
Under the government’s Living with Covid-19 plan, Level 5 restrictions mean that only six guests are allowed at a wedding along with the couple getting married.
The six guest limit is also the number allowed under Level 4 restrictions, with this increasing to 25 guests if the county in question is at Level 3 restrictions.
The government had allowed 25 guests to be permitted at weddings during Level 5 restrictions in October and November but Taoiseach Micheál Martin had said that was due to the small number of weddings actually taking place.
Officials are currently undertaking a review of the Living With Covid-19 plan with the “refreshed” guidelines slated to be published on the week beginning 22 February.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan said last week that it was not the time to speculate about the potential size of weddings in the summer months but the IHF has said it is “looking forward” to the guest limit increasing from six people.
IHF President Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said that weddings have had specific rules as part of previous government plans and that this should continue.
The hotelier was speaking during the launch of a government skills programme for hospitality workers which heard that there were some 160,000 people from the sector currently out of work.
“Weddings are very difficult now in terms of it being six to eight [guests], you have people choosing between siblings to a degree,” Fitzgerald Kane said.
We are looking forward to that number increasing. I suppose what we would like to see are measures such as relating capacity to the size of the venue. That would give us an opportunity to potentially allow for safe social distancing.
“I think we have to take a broader view in terms of trying to increase the numbers. We’re going to have to do it safely and against the backdrop of the general levels of restrictions that are in place.”
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The hotelier manages a family-run hotel in Adare and said they hosted weddings during the last period of reopening.
“Right now it’s six to eight [guests], we don’t know what it’s going to look like beyond that but from my own perspective we hosted 31 weddings after the reopening very, very safely,” she said.
At a Department of Health briefing last week, the Chief Medical Officer was asked whether couples planning a wedding should be preparing for small events this summer.
Holohan said that NPHET was “sensitive to these being very important life events” for people but that it was too early to speak about what could be safe in a number of months’ time.
“We’re still reporting too high a level of disease to be speculating about what might happen when we get back to the level of control we need to get to. We have a substantial amount of work to do for the remainder of February just to stay on the track that we’re on,” he said.