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'Highly unlikely' weddings of up to 100 people allowed by July, Simon Harris says

Small weddings are due to be permitted by 20 July, according to the government roadmap out of lockdown.

Image: Shutterstock/Alex Andrei

THE MINISTER FOR Health Simon Harris has said the government will be working on more detailed guidance about weddings over the next few weeks, but said it it “highly unlikely” 100 people would be allowed at a wedding by July.

According to the government roadmap out of lockdown, small weddings would be permitted by Phase Four which is due to begin on 20 July.

Phase One started today as retail outlets such as hardware stores and garden centres reopen and constructions workers head back to the job. 

The roadmap says that “small social gatherings by family and close friends” such as small weddings and baptisms, limited to a certain number for a limited period while maintaining social distancing, would be permitted from 20 July. 

By Phase Five on 10 August, large social gatherings such as larger weddings would be allowed on a restricted basis. 

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Simon Harris said he can’t give a specific number of attendees for a small wedding at this time, but this will be advised in the future. 

“I know a lot of people are making decisions, big decisions as they try to plan their weddings,” Harris said. 

But if I’m really honest with you, and when I talk to public health doctors now, I think it’s highly unlikely that we would be in a position where there would be anything like 100 people being able to be able to be at a wedding in July, it’s likely to be a very very small number of people.

He said the government will work on guidance over the next few weeks in relation to weddings. 

“A lot of it will depend on the behavior of the virus, but I know this is causing a lot of angst for a lot of people planning their big day,” he said.   

Harris said he is both pleased and nervous that Ireland has reached Phase One of its journey out of lockdown.

The minister said he is nervous “because the virus hasn’t gone away” and there is no vaccine available at this time. 

“We all need to now approach these next couple of weeks showing that collective sense a cop on,” he said.

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“Just because somewhere is open doesn’t mean we need to go. Just because we can go somewhere, it becomes more and more and more important that we practice social distancing, that we wash our hands, that we do our cough etiquette correctly and that we stay at home, except for the circumstances in which we can leave home.”

He said if the country gets “these next three weeks right”, it means we will have found a way of trying to live successfully and safely alongside the virus.  

“We’ve stuck with testing and tracing when other countries have thrown in the towel and the goings gotten tough,” Harris said.

“The HSE has built up a really really good system but this is an area that’s going to require constant vigilance constant improvement and we have got to keep working at it.”

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