Larger weddings should be allowed in some cases, Ministers tell Cabinet meeting

Hotels Federation says new guidance ‘fails to recognise many have capacity to host larger gatherings’

Minister Heather Humphreys: raised questions about large wedding venues which could potentially accommodate more guests and family members.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister Heather Humphreys: raised questions about large wedding venues which could potentially accommodate more guests and family members. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

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A number of Ministers have privately called for larger weddings to be allowed where churches and venues can safely accommodate extra guests.

The call was made at a meeting of the Cabinet on Friday which approved indoor gatherings of up to 50 people from the end of the month. The limit for such gatherings will rise to 100 from July 20th.

It is understood that Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys raised questions about large wedding venues which could potentially accommodate more guests and family members.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the public health team would examine the proposals in the coming weeks and provide further guidance, sources say.

Meanwhile, the president of the Irish Hotels Federation Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said the new Government advice provides “some clarity for hotels and engaged couples, especially those whose special days were cancelled due to the Covid-19 restrictions or whose weddings are imminent.”

“However, this limit fails to acknowledge the extensive health and safety measures already developed so that hotels can provide a safe environment for guests and their teams, nor does it take account of the capacity of some properties to host larger events safely.

“We are calling on the Government to allow hotels that can safely host larger weddings to do so based on the size and scale of the venues, rather than imposing a general limit on how many people can gather at any venue, regardless of safe capacity.”

Ms Kane said that the announcement represented a “starting point” but said it “fails to recognise that many hotels have the capacity to host larger gatherings within the current physical distancing guidelines.”

“While some brides and grooms will now be able to have their special day this summer, a roadmap is urgently needed that will provide further clarity on what weddings can look like following the summer months until the end of the year. Couples will be very anxious to know this.”

Hotels have developed a set of guidelines in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland which also detail how to safely host gatherings such as weddings in different sized venues.

The guidelines recommend a private room for the drinks reception. Canapés must be in individual portions. During the meal, salt and pepper shakers, butter dishes will be available only on request. There will also be “no family-style service of food, ie no shared vegetable and gravy dishes.” Wedding afters “must be served directly to each guest fully plated.” Social distancing will have to be maintained on dance floors.