Guidance to local authorities and places of worship on solemnisation of marriages and the forming of civil partnerships.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 impose temporary restrictions on gatherings and movement of people in Wales. This has been done to control the spread of coronavirus in Wales and to help protect the public from the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
On 22 June 2020 amendments to the Regulations came into force which allow places of worship to open to conduct solemnisation of marriage or the formation of a civil partnership and provide for a person to gather in buildings to attend a solemnisation of a marriage or formation of a civil partnership. The effect of these changes is that it is now lawful for places of worship as well as Register Offices to open for such events and for certain people to gather and enter relevant buildings to attend such ceremonies. [Note: this does not at this stage extend to licensed wedding venues]
The opportunity to marry or form a civil partnership is an important milestone in many people’s lives and the value that is placed on the union formed is recognised in the legal status that the marriage or civil partnership is afforded. Many people want to celebrate the occasion with receptions or other forms of social gatherings with friends and family. Enabling such gatherings is not the purpose of the amendments to the Regulations. Most of the relevant venues for such gatherings are currently required to remain closed.
We must recognise that, globally, there have been many examples where ‘wedding receptions’ have been ‘hotspots’ for the spread of the disease. Tackling Coronavirus does not allow us to go further than ensuring those who, at this stage, want to marry or form a civil partnership, can do so. The form that these ceremonies can take will inevitably be limited by the requirements of social distancing but they can be attended by invited guests who would witness the formation of the legal, and where relevant, spiritual partnership that marriage or civil partnership entails. The numbers able to attend will be dependent on the place of worship or Register Office being able to accommodate people safely, observing the physical distancing requirements.
It will be for places of worship themselves to assess whether they wish to open for such ceremonies and to consider the necessary reasonable steps to maintain physical distancing between households during the ceremony. The Registration service provides a statutory service, and will be able to facilitate marriage and civil partnerships now that the restrictions on travel have been eased for such purposes. However, it should be recognised that there may be circumstances where issues, such as numbers of staff who are self-isolating, may make it impractical to do so or may limit appointment availability.
Guests may attend the marriage ceremony or civil partnership formation, but should recognise that we are making a limited exception to the restrictions that have been imposed as a result of a public health emergency. The overarching advice, therefore, is that people must only attend an event if invited and that the reasonable excuse for travel and entry to a building that has been established to allow this, extends only to those aspects which are essential to the solemnisation of the marriage or formation of the civil partnership.
The normal restrictions on gatherings would apply to all aspects outside the ceremony itself. Those restrictions limit gatherings to meetings of two households outdoors. It is, however, important to note that the Regulations are also being amended to allow for two households to join together to become an extended household. This may only occur on one occasion, but should this happen, that extended household is treated as a single household, and the restrictions on gathering will not apply as between each of its members. Aside from those involved in and facilitating the ceremony, the only exception to the requirement to be invited would be those who attend to exercise their right to raise a reason against or lawful impediment to the marriage or civil partnership.
We have received this update from the Monmouthshire Registration Service regarding weddings and the current position:
At the present time the Monmouthshire Registration Service are still being told by Welsh Government and the General Register Office that they are not allowed to conduct and register ceremonies out at Approved Premises. The position is extremely confusing and the Local Registration Services across Wales are asking both parties to clarify why this cannot now happen, (provided that venues have made the decision to open and are satisfied that they are able to follow all other guidance for their business), given that ceremonies can take place in Register Offices and Places of Worship.
We do not know when any further announcement will be made, or any further guidance published, so unfortunately it is still a waiting game and we still don't know when the position will change. We will let you know as soon as we have any news but they cannot confirm any bookings in the near future until the Regsitration Service have been given permission to resume their duties.
There has been much reporting in the media reporting over the weekend that weddings can once again take place within Wales. Unfortunately this reporting is inaccurate, although Welsh Government included provision within the COVID-19 legislation for weddings and civil partnerships to take place this relates only to places of worship at this time.
The General Register Office confirmed yesterday after liaising with Welsh Government all weekend. The Monmouthshire Registration Service have no discretion to begin ceremonies at this time. As registration is not a devolved power they MUST wait for confirmation from the General Register Office before they can start.
As an office, Monmouthshire Registration Service have now been allowed to open for birth registrations and notice appointments so the lifting of restrictions is continuing and hopefully wedding ceremonies will not be too far away, whatever the restrictions on those may be.
Update: 18th May 2020 (16:44) - In accordance with recent Government announcements the Glen Yr Afon House Hotel will be closed with effect from Monday 23rd March until further notice. This decision has been made with both the welfare of our staff and the public in mind. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to seeing you back at the hotel in safer times.
Please bear with us during this time. We are developing answers to some frequently asked questions on this page to help our customers as best as we can whilst we have no colleagues here to personally assist. Please also note that we will do our best to respond to urgent emails although the frequency of checking mailboxes may not be as regular as usual so please bear with us.
We will stay in touch and the latest updates will be available on this page, social media and direct communications to our guests as appropriate.
Hotel Bedroom Bookings - With the exception of bedrooms booked for wedding guests (see above), all reservations until 31st May that have not pre-paid any charge or deposit will be cancelled automatically and there is no need to contact us. Our Reservations Team have been contacting guests who have made pre-payments to make arrangements for moving, rescheduling or cancelling guest stays. Guests booking via Booking websites should effect cancellations through them. Future bookings will be addressed as soon as we are able and upon continual review of the situation.
Gift Vouchers - All vouchers with expiry dates up to July 2020 will be automatically extended to 30th September 2020 for now. Further extensions may follow, pending updates to Government policy.
Update: 21st March 2020 (13:06) - Regarding forthcoming weddings - this is an extract today from the Monmouthshire County Council website:
'I’m due to get married at an MCC registered venue, will my ceremony still go ahead? - People due to get married will be contacted if any changes or cancellations are being made to their ceremony.
Update: 21st March 2020 (11.03)
In light of the Government's announcement yesterday (20th March) our restaurant and bars are now closed.
The hotel will remain open with room service on food and beverages being offered until further notice. Sadly our Mother's Day events have been cancelled and we have contacted those affected individually.
Our reservations staff are experiencing increased call volumes at this time but please be assured that your booking is safe and your reservation can be deferred or re-arranged in due course.
The health and safety of our staff and guests is our utmost priority and we wish you all strength and positivity until this situation passes. Take care, stay safe and we hope we can rely on your continued support when the dust settles.
Posted:Thu 19th Mar 2020
We understand your concerns regarding venturing out at this time, not only to visit ourselves but other hotels, pubs + restaurants. Rest assured we are taking the appropriate measures at the Glen-yr-Afon.
We'd like to thank everyone who made the effort to join us over the weekend.
Just to reiterate, food service times, along with opening hours remain the same.
Although we understand this is not possible for all, please would you use a contactless payment device when paying to reduce the exchanging of physical money. We hope that this will help minimize the transmission of any nastiness!
We have put together leaflets which detail other helpful measures to take during this time. These can be found in Reception.
In times like these it's important to get behind your local, family-run pubs and restaurants, for which there are plenty in Usk.
Again, we would like to reassure our guests that we are taking every possible measure to minimise your concerns.
Many thanks for your understanding and support during this time.
Posted on Thu 19th Mar 2020 at 15:09