Wedding receptions will be completely banned in any area that enters a ‘Tier 3’ lockdown, the government revealed tonight.
The ban will apply to the six boroughs of the Liverpool City Region from Wednesday – as well as any other region made Tier 3 in future under the new Local Covid Alert Level system.
Yet under a bizarre quirk in the rules, ceremonies will be allowed to go ahead – as long as no more than 15 attend.
The new rules will be a new blow to engaged couples whose plans were already knocked off-course by coronavirus.
And they will devastate the thousands of wedding planners, venues, florists and photographers who rely on them to make a living.
The change came as Liverpool City Region was unveiled as the first area to enter the most severe restrictions in a new three-tier local lockdown regime in England.
Tier 1 will mirror existing rules including the 10pm curfew and rule of six. Tier 2 will have a ban on meeting anyone from outside your household or bubble indoors.
And Tier 3 will have a total ban on meeting anyone from outside your household or bubble, indoors or outdoors. The only exemption to this will be in a public open space like a park, where the Rule of Six will still apply.
Tier 3 areas will also be forced to close pubs and bars unless they can operate as a restaurant. And people are banned from ordering alcohol unless it comes with a “substantial” meal.
The detail of the rules, published tonight by the government, shows how Tier 3 restrictions will impact weddings and civil partnerships.
Up to 15 people will be allowed at ceremonies, the same as in Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas in the rest of England.
But unlike in Tiers 1 and 2, where up to 15 people can attend the reception, no receptions will be allowed in Tier 3 areas.
Funerals will also be restricted under all three tiers announced tonight. While 30 can attend the funeral itself, only 15 people can attend the wake, in either Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3.
It comes after Boris Johnson officially confirmed a new system of Covid Local Alert Levels that will cover every village, town, city and region of England.
Officials tonight assigned every area in the country as Tier 1 (medium risk), Tier 2 (high) or Tier 3 (very high) due to soaring rates of coronavirus – and also hope to publish a postcode checker to see the rules in your area.
Announcing the measures in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said he understood those “chafing” against the restrictions and “fatigued” about rules.
But he said “the bleak mathematics” means letting the virus rip would lead to an “intolerable death toll”.
And it would cause such a huge strain on the NHS that “doctors and nurses would be simply unable to devote themselves to other treatments – cancer, heart disease and countless more.”
He added: “We must act to save lives… I believe not to act would be unforgiveable. So I hope rapid progress can be made in the coming days.”
But Labour leader Keir Starmer told the PM: “I am now deeply sceptical that the Government has actually got a plan to get control of this virus, to protect jobs or retain public trust.”
He added it increasingly feels as if Boris Johnson is “several steps behind the curve”.
Full list of areas by tier
Tier 3 areas (‘very high’ risk)
Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton).
Tier 2 areas (‘high’ risk)
● Cheshire West and Chester
● Cheshire East
● High Peak – the wards of:
○ St John’s
○ Old Glossop
○ Howard Town
○ Hadfield South
○ Hadfield North
● Blackburn with Darwen
● South Tyneside
● North Tyneside
● Redcar and Cleveland
● Oadby and Wigston
● Nottingham City
Tier 1 (‘medium’ risk)
All areas of England not listed above.