Thank you for writing to me about coronavirus and the wedding industry. I have read your email carefully and noted the key points that you raise.
Businesses in the wedding industry, which includes venue, catering, planning, make-up, photography, cake, dress, tailor and florist businesses, help make a couple’s wedding day incredibly special. I sympathise with any engaged couple who have had to cancel or postpone their wedding as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. I am also hugely sympathetic to businesses in the events and wedding sectors, who I appreciate this has been an incredibly difficult time for. Please be assured that I will continue to raise industry-specific concerns with ministerial colleagues.
To support businesses during this time, the Chancellor has announced an unprecedented package of measures. These measures include grants and business rates relief, VAT deferral, business interruption and bounce back loans, as well as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
For example, businesses that were in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief as of 11 March 2020 will be eligible for the Small Business Grants Fund. Under the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grants Fund, businesses that would have been in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme with properties that have a rateable value of under £51,000 are eligible for cash grants of up to £25,000 per property.
Businesses can identify what support measures they may be eligible for by using the finder tool online. This can be accessed via: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
I am delighted that weddings and civil ceremonies have been able to resume with up to 30 people present. Whilst I recognise that there may be some disappointment about capped numbers attending, and that the safety measures in place may seem unfamiliar compared to how we are used to seeing weddings, it is an important step. Many who have been waiting to get married are now able to do so.
It is my understanding that 15 August is the earliest date that Covid-19 secure wedding receptions may be able to resume, including a sit-down meal, with social distancing measures in place. I am so sorry if the decision to postpone the resumption of receptions has had an impact on your business and livelihood.
I am aware that wedding industry businesses are anxious about how they will be able to perform their services with the restrictions in place. Ministers have assured me that they are engaging with representatives from the industry to explore how wedding celebrations, including wedding receptions which affect hospitality businesses, may be resumed in a Covid-19 Secure way, when it is safe to do so.
For more information please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/
I hope that as the virus is brought under further control, that we can see the further relaxation of safety measures to everyone's benefit. I am personally lobbying Ministers very strongly for many of the current/remaining restrictions to be lifted, and I am hopeful that, as soon as the science allows, there can be further relaxation in wedding measures to enable other businesses which contribute to the special day to reopen.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking