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Important New QLD COVID-19 Wedding Restrictions

Updated: 16th September 2020

PRIVATE GATHERINGS IN HOMES AND PUBLIC SPACES IN QLD ARE NOW RESTRICTED TO A MAXIMUM OF 10 PEOPLE IN GREATER BRISBANE AND GOLD COAST, AND 30 ELSEWHERE.


Announced September 2nd 2020...


Whilst COVID-19 restrictions are easing in some areas, restrictions on weddings and other gatherings have tightened. The QLD government has restricted private social gatherings to 10 persons in restricted areas (Greater Brisbane, Gold Coast and Darling Downs) and elsewhere in QLD to 30 persons.


Going out, travel, recreation and gathering in Queensland


This direction is in place from 11.30am on 2nd September 2020, until the end of the declared public health emergency, unless it is revoked or replaced.


These new restrictions are targeted at gatherings. A wedding reception or ceremony at your house or outdoors in public with a celebrant (for example: The Botanic Gardens) now comes under these restrictions.


Churches and all other commercial venues such as hotels, function centres, restaurants, bars etc. are allowed to have more than 10 guests in restricted areas with their relevant COVID Safe Industry Plan in place.


If you've already booked a wedding at a commercial venue, you should able to proceed as planned (as they will already be complying with the existing restrictions). Please check with your venue for confirmation.

HOW CAN YOU HAVE MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE LEGALLY ATTEND YOUR WEDDING?


Wedding receptions and ceremonies held at a person’s residence (for example a backyard wedding) may have more people attend - if a business is engaged to manage the event and is operating under an approved COVID Safe Plan. For example, a catering company or event manager is operating under the Weddings Industry COVID Safe Plan.


You can view this information in full here (scroll down to the ‘Questions about Gatherings’ section).


While this new clarification (including stating both the words ‘ceremony’ and ‘reception) is great news for couples with larger guest lists, please check with the vendors whether they are eligible and are ‘on board’ with these new guidelines.


It would also be worth adding that many suppliers might still be hesitant to proceed, as they may not be aware of these recent statements, or be willing or able to implement the industry plan.


The first step might be to just direct them to the information above.


Although the above answers might provide a potential solution to increasing guest numbers at private gatherings, they also raise more questions. For example, would the supplier (say wedding planner) be liable for any breaches of the direction? If so, they would probably want to legally limit their liability, especially in situations where they may not have ultimate control of the premises (such as inside a private house).


And if you've already hired a caterer, or were planning on using one for the above purposes, please bear in mind they would have to be present throughout the duration of your ceremony and reception. So if you have hired a spit roast vendor, with a COVID Safe Plan, to set up and serve food in your backyard, they are going to have be there before, during and right to the end of your event to enforce their COVID Safe Plan (which might increase the cost for their time).


FYI one Brisbane based wedding planner I know who does currently have some availability in September/October (and I can fully recommend!) is Kirsty from Storybook & Co.

GETTING YOUR HEAD AROUND IT


What makes these new restrictions so difficult to get your head around is that they are split between restricted areas and non-restricted areas, and they are supplemental to previous directions.


That means that all the old Stage 3 restrictions from 24th July 2020 still apply, but these new ones are layered on top.


So, while wedding ceremonies can still in theory have 100 people attend, this is only in spaces where a COVID Safe Plan is in place such as a Church, or other venue (which could be a bar, restaurant, function room etc.)


CURRENT QLD CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS


Weddings (ceremonies and receptions) are essentially affected by the two directions below:

Movement and Gathering Direction (No. 3) (August 22nd 2020)

Restrictions on Businesses, Activities and Undertakings Direction (No. 5) (24th July 2020)


WEDDING CEREMONIES


Social distancing measures are still in place. This includes frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection and remaining 1.5 metres apart at all times, except for any persons currently living together in the same bubble (such as the bride and groom).


10 persons maximum in restricted areas and 30 in unrestricted areas can gather for a private wedding ceremony providing each person is well and social distancing is maintained. For the typical wedding ceremony (in practice), social distancing means no hugs or kisses except between guests who are living together already in the same bubble, and strict adherence to guest numbers and maintaining a contact list of those who attended.


WEDDING RECEPTIONS


Since July 24th 2020, guests can no longer stand when eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, cafes, pubs, licensed clubs, RSL clubs, function centres and licensed premises in hotels. Where there is a bar serving alcohol, you are permitted to leave your seat to obtain your drink, providing you immediately return to your seat.


In terms of guest numbers at receptions held at commercial venues there can be no more than one person per 2 square metres (up to a total of 50 people) for venues or spaces of 200 square metres or less...


or...


no more than one person per 4 square metres for venues or spaces of 200 square metres or more.


Where the 2 or 4 square metre rule applies: it applies to areas of the business that are open to, or are used by the public - and not the kitchen (for example).


The 4 square metre rule applies in all other situations, such as a gathering at a private home - with a limit of no more than 10 in restricted areas, and 30 elsewhere in QLD.


No buffet self-service food is currently the ruling at entertainment venues or retail food services, which basically covers everywhere a typical wedding reception is held including function centres, restaurants, cafes etc. Or in other words, food must be served to your table (although your venue may make other suggestions which are permissible or their own interpretations).


Dance floors are not allowed to operate as a dance-floor in Stage 3, including at wedding venues such as halls, function rooms etc.


The actual wording of the direction is…

Despite paragraph 15, a restricted business hosting a wedding may allow the couple getting married to dance with each other and/or their parents.

Example – a couple may perform a ‘first dance’ for their wedding guests, but the guests may not participate in dancing on the dance floor.


Importantly, social distancing and the 4 square metre rule still applies (even at private activities) and you should also maintain a contact register if contact tracing is required later.


* An Approved Plan or COVID Safe Checklist is required in this case (to exceed 50 guests at a commercial venue).



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


These questions were answered in part by an operator on the QLD Government COVID helpline (see below for details).


IF I HOST A PRIVATE GATHERING OF UP TO 100 GUESTS INDOORS DOES THE 4 SQUARE METRE RULE APPLY?


New restrictions in place from August 22nd would restrict these private gathering numbers to 10 in restricted areas and 30 elsewhere in QLD.


Yes, generally speaking, as this comes under ‘public health rules to maintain’ which mentions 1 person per 4 square metres indoors together with other measures including:

  • Physical distancing

  • 4 square metres per person when indoors

  • Hand hygiene

  • Respiratory hygiene

  • Frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection

  • My recommendation would be to hire a COVID-19 planner to oversee and ensure you're 100% compliant.


WOULD EXTERNAL SUPPLIERS AND CATERERS STAFF COUNT TOWARDS THE 100 PERSON LIMIT FOR PRIVATE GATHERINGS?


Yes every person counts including children or babies, and bear in mind the limit is now 10 in restricted areas, and 30 elsewhere in QLD.


CAN I OBTAIN A COVID SAFE PLAN FOR MY EVENT E.G. BACKYARD WEDDING?


COVID Safe Plans are industry specific, and here is the wedding COVID safe plan. However, these are not available to individuals, only businesses.


IS A MARQUEE OR OPEN TENT CONSIDERED OUTDOORS IF THERE ARE NO WALLS?


Yes it is considered outdoors providing it has no walls or materials in place to enclose the space, such as the sides of a marquee.


CAN I SEAT PEOPLE NOT IN THE SAME FAMILY GROUP/BUBBLE AT THE SAME TABLE AT A PRIVATE GATHERING?


If they are in the same family/bubble then yes absolutely, otherwise they should be physically distanced, at least 1.5 metres apart.


IF SPONTANEOUS DANCING HAPPENS AT MY WEDDING RECEPTION (AT HOME/PRIVATELY) IS THIS ALLOWED?


No dancing is permitted at weddings (including private gatherings/receptions) except between the couple and their parents only. This includes gatherings taking place at private residences.


CAN WE HAVE A BUFFET AT A PRIVATE GATHERING?


This depends on your interpretation of the directions, and while I cannot say whether this is legal or not… at some weddings I have attended they have offered separate, and distinctly coloured utensils for the serving of food.


WHAT IF I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? WHO DO I CALL?


If you are seeking clarification on a public health direction or have any questions, please call 134 COVID (134 268).


I have received conflicting/contradictory information on multiple occasions, when calling government departments including COVID Line, QLD Business and QLD Health.


Everyone has tried to be helpful and has answered all questions as best they could, but they seem to be at pains to emphasise that they are simply interpreting the currently available directions.


LEGAL


Due to the rapidly changing nature of COVID related restrictions, and their interpretations, I need to make it very clear that all information within this blog is current as at Wednesday, 16th September, 2020 but may change without notice.


I hope this has been of some help,


Ted


I’m here to help you save money, inspire you with new ideas, and to help make your special day as fun, as unique and as safe, but, most importantly, as memorable as possible.









Registered Marriage Celebrant - Brisbane (A20981)

ABN: 42138904403

Website: https://www.tedjohnson.com.au/

Email: tedjohnson.celebrant@gmail.com





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