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Covid-19: Wedding Industry

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2021

My officials and I regularly meet the industry-led weddings taskforce, established to represent all parts of the UK wedding sector, to understand the impact of the pandemic on jobs and businesses.

The Minister knows that businesses in the wedding industry have faced an incredibly difficult year, and they have not had much financial help. He also knows that this is a very seasonal industry, and confidence is at an all-time low. Does he think it is acceptable that, even now, people are still confused about the guidance regarding the wedding industry—whether to have weddings; what sort of numbers there should be—and that the guidelines that have been issued are very vague and confused? Does he accept that it is unacceptable that people are still asking for clarity at this stage, bearing in mind that the wedding season is about to start?

Having dealt with the UK weddings taskforce, I understand the need to plan. We have published the guidance for ceremonies, and receptions will follow. Receptions from 12 April will be outdoor receptions. I am pleased that the UK weddings taskforce pushed us so that we were able to include dedicated wedding venues in that guidance.

The Chancellor announced in his Budget a raft of new measures to help to support businesses, including those in the wedding sector. These include an extension to the furlough and self-employment income support schemes and further grants for business.

The wedding industry has suffered disproportionately during the last year and I am concerned that the anomalies will continue. For instance, if we look at phase 3—from 17 May—we see that a venue in my constituency, such as Kensington Palace Pavilion, will be able to open to a music event at 50% capacity, which is 200 people, with alcohol, but a wedding the next day in exactly the same venue will be able to host only 30 people. Can my hon. Friend explain that anomaly?

My hon. Friend has been a formidable champion for businesses in her area, including weddings, personal care and hospitality, especially. The pace and sequencing of reopening in the road map have been informed by the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies in its working groups. Weddings, which bring family and friends together, with their interaction, are particularly vulnerable to the spread of covid-19.