A cabinet minister has hinted that there could be changes to rules surrounding weddings after couples around the UK have been forced to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Justice secretary Robert Buckland has revealed that “anxious consideration” is being given to the effect of “potential changes”, the BBC has reported.
Weddings and other ceremonies have been put on hold due to the banning of gatherings of more than two people to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The rule-change hint came on BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour following Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday, which didn’t make any reference to the particular restrictions surrounding weddings.
The subject cropped up when a panellist said she was due to be going on her honeymoon but feared she wouldn’t be able to marry for quite some time.
Asked about the issue, Buckland said: “You’ll be glad to know that we are giving anxious consideration to the issue of marriages.
“We want to help people like you, but there are also some people who are really, they want to get married because things are happening in their life that means they might not be together for a long time, and therefore I’m giving a lot of anxious consideration to the effect of the potential changes here as to what we can do with regard to marriage ceremonies, so watch this space, we’re working on it.”
It has been previously suggested that eventually, when restrictions are eased, Church of England weddings could take place with the legal minimum of just five people present, including the priest, the bride and groom, and two witnesses.
Although some experts believe that big social gatherings, like weddings and birthday parties, may be off the cards for some time, as they are considered to be most risky.
In new research, scientists have suggested that large family celebrations could turn into “super-spreader events” for coronavirus.
They warned that allowing congregations of 10 to 30 people indoors could be enough for just one person carrying the virus to infect 10 others.
The get round the banning of weddings, some couples have opted to hold virtual ceremonies, inviting their friends and family to watch them via video conferencing apps.
But with no clear indication that ceremonies could soon resume, campaigners are calling for the government to allow digital civil partnership or wedding ceremonies.
The Sunday Times reported that a change.org petition has been launched to force an alteration in the law that would see register offices conduct legal formalities online via video call services such as Zoom.
The Ministry of Justice has previously revealed that it “understands the frustration that couples planning a wedding must be feeling”.
Since the lockdown went into force, there have been an estimated 32,000 wedding and civil partnership ceremonies cancelled in England and Wales.