Anselm Guise, owner of exclusive weddings and events venue Elmore Court, has expressed his relief that the cap on the number of people who can attend weddings in England is set to be scrapped from June 21.
Although prime minister Boris Johnson announced this week that the lifting of all remaining Covid restrictions scheduled to occur on June 21 would be delayed by four weeks, the limit on the number of attendees at weddings in England will be scrapped on time.
Even though rules on singing and dancing will remain in force, the removal of the attendance cap comes as welcome news for Elmore Court, who had been preparing to resume business as normal from June 21 since February, when the government’s roadmap out of social restrictions was first announced.
One of the oldest family homes in England, Elmore Court provides an exclusive space which can be rented out for weddings and a range of other events.
Speaking to The Leaders Council, owner Anselm Guise said: “The news on Monday was initially met with relief as we were mostly concerned that the limit of 30 would have been continued with this delay.
“We had to assume from when the June 21 date was announced back in February that things would go back to normal from that point onwards. We had no choice. We also had to recruit and rebuild our team in readiness for this date, and of course plenty of couples will have booked their weddings for after June 21 under the impression that they could have higher numbers there. Having to burst their bubble and tell them that they could only have 30 attendees after all would have been horrible, but thankfully this scenario has been avoided.”
Despite the boost that the lifting of the attendance cap has brought, Anselm stressed that the rules still in place on dancing and singing would need to be removed sooner rather than later.
“The other side of the coin is that people want to celebrate on their special day, especially when spending this amount of money, and not being able to dance and have loud music is a massive blow for many. If things are delayed again beyond the new ‘freedom day’ of July 19, it is going to cause huge problems for us as a business, since a big part of our offering will have been removed and confidence may start to be eroded.”
Anselm added that in his view, planning and guidance from the government could have been circulated to business better, suggesting that little consideration had been given when formulating the roadmap out of lockdown to the notice business required to prepare. He was also critical of the UK’s border policy, suggesting that it has contributed to allowing new Covid variants into the country and pushing the ‘freedom date’ back.
He said: “What has been frustrating, particularly with regard to leadership, is that we, like the rest of the nighttime and events industry, needed time to plan and recruit. I feel the leadership of the country has been poor in this respect. Added to that, the sight of all the G7 leaders huddled together being served canapés is somewhat galling and far from leading by example. I also feel that there has been some indecision over our borders, which has led to the so-called Delta variant of Covid infiltrating our country far too easily.
“Concerning dates, perhaps the government is guilty of setting an unrealistic lockdown exit date with the plan for a June 21 easing. It would have been easier for all of us had they given a date where herd immunity was achievable, perhaps going with July 19 from the start, so that preparation from business to fully reopen was not wasted.”
Another issue that hospitality sector operators have been forced to grapple with is difficulties surrounding recruitment, which Anselm also feels has not been carefully considered by ministers.
He explained: “Young people have savings and after all of the lockdowns, some are less willing to go into work and want to spend some time enjoying freedoms while they can. Further to this, the full enactment of Brexit this year has meant that fewer individuals from Europe are available to come to the UK and fill the shortfall.
“For us and anyone who has spent lots of money, time and energy getting their teams together for a full easing of restrictions on June 21, only not to be able to use everyone in those teams properly now due to some ongoing restrictions, is a massive problem.”
Nonetheless, Anselm and his team at Elmore Court remain optimistic for the future.
“We are hopeful, and we are optimistic aside from all the negativities. We have not only survived as a business, but we have kept our couples happy and ensured all our staff are still in work. From June 21, we can get to work on recovering financially and hope we can take further steps toward prosperity from July 19.”