PM confirms lockdown easing delayed until 19 July but ‘huge relief’ as weddings can go ahead

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Wedding bride groom arm in arm

Bedford wedding businesses have described the latest statement from the Prime Minister as ‘a huge relief’ after it was confirmed that nuptials with over 30 guests could go ahead from 21 June.

It was a rare glimmer of hope in this evening’s statement (Monday) from the PM, which confirmed that the proposed easing of lockdown restrictions planned for 21 June has been delayed until mid-July.

The new date for the lifting of the majority of the remaining restrictions – including social distancing and mask-wearing – is 19 July, a month later than had been hoped.

Sigh of relief, but some reservations

Wedding and venue stylist, Gemma Lander, of the White Emporium, told the Bedford Independent: “I think there has been a slight sigh of relief from the wedding industry following today’s announcement.

The White Emporium’s Gemma Lander, in happier pre-Covid times

“Since rumours started circulating last week that there would be a delay, we have all been stuck in a void of anxious uncertainty.

“The announcement, although on the whole positive, does raise more questions and uncertainty and it’s now a waiting game whilst couples and venue liaise.

“Guest numbers are going to be reliant on a venues’ Covid safe capacity and there will be more postponements and financial hardship for suppliers as couples want that dream day.”

Tom Answer, co-founder of the Vintage Suit Hire Company, said: “It’s great news for us and our couples and I am sure most will be happy to make some compromise around social distancing.

“We have 30 weddings booked in for the four weeks from 21 June, and inevitably the large majority of these would have been further postponed or cancelled if they could only have 30 people. It’s a huge relief.”

Slightly less optimistic was award-winning wedding photographer, Cat Lane.

“On one hand I’m happy that weddings are not restricted to 30 – at this point it has been over 20 months since our sector has operated at its normal peak season capacity, and another month with wedding attendance heavily restricted would have been another huge blow to our already struggling sector,” she told the Bedford Independent.

“However, our sector will still be affected by this announcement and it may still result in weddings being rescheduled, some for a fourth or fifth time.

“My heart breaks for these couples who keep having restrictions placed on their weddings at such short notice, and I hope we receive further clarification from the government shortly.”

Live music events affected

The good news has not extended to music and hospitality venues, which will still face restrictions until 19 July.

Bedford Park Concerts issued a statement this evening to assure ticket-holders that they are working behind the scenes to assess the impact it may have on this season’s programme.

The statement said: “As soon as we have further details we will update you all here. As ever, thanks to you all. Your patience and support does not go unnoticed by the team.”

Esquires has confirmed that it will reschedule its Ceremony festival, scheduled to take place on 17 and 18 July.

Cases of Delta variant rising

The government has said that cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 (coronavirus) are doubling each week in the worst affected areas and this is translating into an increase in numbers being treated in intensive care.

The delay will ensure that more vaccines can be administered, with 23 and 24-year-olds being invited to get their jabs from tomorrow (Tuesday).

Anyone over 40 who has had their first dose now only has to wait eight weeks rather than 12 before they have their second dose.

You can find information about all vaccination centres on the BLMK website and social media @BLMK_CCG, as well as regular updates on opening times and drop-in clinics.

The NHS is now offering vaccines to everyone aged 25 and over, and you can book your vaccination in Bedford by going online to bedford.gov.uk/vaccinations or calling 01234 718077, or by using the national booking system by calling 119 or going to nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.

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