Large weddings could be allowed to return in hotels with bespoke function suites if the two-metre rule around social distancing is reduced by the Scottish Government, a leading SNP minister has suggested.
Fergus Ewing, the tourism minister, was responding to questions during the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, and said social distancing was the main issue stopping large indoor weddings.
Responding to a question from Oliver Mundell MSP, Mr Ewing said “as soon as it is safe to do so”, hotels would be allowed to hold larger weddings indorrs.
The Conservative MSP, Oliver Mundell had raised the issue that many hotels in his constituency, particularly in Gretna, were feeling the impact of coronavirus not just due to the lack of tourist trade but also on the reduction in the number and size of weddings.
He said: “It’s very acutely felt in Gretna Green in my constituency, there are a number of tourism and hospitality businesses, particularly hotels but also associated businesses who are very dependent on the wedding trade, and clearly weddings and not going to go back to normal on July 15 from the route map and will be on a much more limited scale.”
Mr Ewing said he recognised that the wedding trade made up a large proportion of income for larger hotels across Scotland and in Gretna, adding that hoteliers had raised the fact they often have separate wedding venue facilities with separate facilities that could be used.
He said: “I’m also aware from discussions on this with hoteliers that many of them have bespoke function suites. Therefore they are in an environment which hoteliers are able to marshal and steward with relative ease and they are not mixing with the generality of the hotel.
“I do appreciate this is very very important for the hotel sector and it is also tied in with the two-metre rule. Plainly, operating a hotel reception for 200 guests may well be impossible with social distancing at two-metres, which is the right medical position according to the public health advice we have at the present time but which is being looked at by the First Minister.
“We all hope that we can see progress on social distancing as soon as it is safe to do so but we cannot ignore the science or fear of a second wave of contagion.
“As soon as it is safe to do so then I do think that it would then be much much easier for hotels to manage and steward and marshal the operation of weddings and other events that involve people celebrating together in fairly large numbers.”
Bettina Sizeland, deputy director of tourism and major events at the Scottish Government added: “During phase three we will relax restrictions on funeral attendances, marriages and civil partnerships to beyond close family.
“That will be continue to be under review and as Mr Ewing said this is constrained by physical distancing and that is one of the major constraints to that at present.”
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