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'Highly unlikely' weddings with over 100 people will take place 'over the next few months', says Harris

NPHET is to give advice to government on weddings in the next seven to ten days.

Image: Shutterstock/pha88

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has said it is “highly unlikely” that weddings of more than 100 people will be able to take place “over the next few months”.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, couples have sought clarity on when weddings can take place, with many having to cancel and postpone their big day.

When asked about the matter today, the health minister said “this is a really stressful situation for people”. 

He said he understood the pandemic had “thrown everything up in the air” for many couples.

It is important sometimes to be “blunt and honest” with people, he said.

“My honest advice to anyone, if I was advising a friend or a family member now, sometimes it is important to just be blunt with people – nobody can predict the trajectory of this virus – no one can say with certainty where it is going to go, but it looks highly unlikely, highly unlikely, that over the next few months you would be able to have a gathering of more than 100 people.

“So if you are planning a very small wedding in the 20s maybe we will be able to get there,” he said, pointing out that the current advice for funerals is that 25 people are permitted to attend.

Harris said he asked the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to issue advice on the issue, adding that he didn’t want to preempt that.

However, he added that he thought it was “important to be honest with people”. 

“I don’t see large indoor gatherings of around 100 people coming back in the next couple of months and therefore people might want to plan accordingly,” he said. 

The Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has given the minister a commitment that he will carry out work on what the new phases of the roadmap will look like now that Phase 3, 4 and 5 are being rolled into two remaining phases. 

Holohan “will look at weddings in that context”, said the minister today.

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“I am due to get NPHET advice on what the remaining phases of the plan might look like in the next week to ten days. I would hope wedding guidance would be a part of that,” he said.

Harris added that it will be a tough task for NPHET as he is asking them to predict what the virus might be like in a couple of months, when “we don’t know where we will be in a few weeks time”.

However, he believes it is important to provide people with “honest guidance” while acknowledging that the government could get it wrong.

Many couples that were due to get married this year have chosen to postpone till 2021, he said. While he acknowledged that it was not for him to give that advice, he said he wanted to give couples guidance soon “even if it is bad news”.

“Sometimes you just need certainty,” said Harris, adding that he hopes offical NPHET advice will be back to him in the next week or so.

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