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Covid regulations Weddings can have 100 guests but first holy communions and confirmations still banned

Up to 50 to be allowed at Christenings but 'avoid' socialising afterwards, new rules say

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Groom Tony Barry and bride Anna Killeen with Wedding International Planners Association Ireland president Tara Fay (right) and vice president Michelle McDermott delivering flowers at the Department of Health in protest at the current Covid restrictions

Groom Tony Barry and bride Anna Killeen with Wedding International Planners Association Ireland president Tara Fay (right) and vice president Michelle McDermott delivering flowers at the Department of Health in protest at the current Covid restrictions

Groom Tony Barry and bride Anna Killeen with Wedding International Planners Association Ireland president Tara Fay (right) and vice president Michelle McDermott delivering flowers at the Department of Health in protest at the current Covid restrictions

The numbers of guests at weddings and christenings will increase next week, but confirmations and first holy communions are still prohibited under Covid-19 regulations.

The Cabinet yesterday agreed to increase the number of guests who can attend a wedding from 50 to 100 despite concerns over the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

They also agreed to allow 50 people to attend christening ceremonies but people are to "avoid" social events afterwards.

The new rules will come into effect on Thursday, August 5.

Communions and confirmations will continue to be banned under the new rules.

The Government did not announce a new date for when further restrictions may be eased but it is expected that regulations will be reviewed in September.

The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 is due to meet throughout August to review the evolving situation with the virus.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said christenings were given priority as there is an "inevitability of baptisms taking place across the ­summer periods".

He said families are waiting to baptise their child and they wanted to do it during the summer.

"In relation to confirmations and communions... they're more likely to be happening when schools come back from September onwards," he added.

"The Government will assess where we are with those events after I hope a further amount of progress in August.

"But the key difference between those ceremonies is the likelihood of baptisms continuing to take place across the coming weeks, but it is unlikely that there will be as much of a demand for confirmations and communions across August.

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"I really hope that we're in a position, later on in the year when we continue to make progress... that such ceremonies will be allowed to be able to be scheduled."

Meanwhile, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has welcomed the decision to allow weddings of up to 100 guests from August 5.

Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, president of the IHF, said: "This is very welcome news and will come as a huge relief to couples all across Ireland who are working to finalise their guest list, many of whom have now rescheduled their wedding plans several times.

"We recognise the difficult balance Government has had to strike with public health our number one priority.

"It is our hope that there will be additional movement in due course in relation to closing time, dancing and music as well as a further easing of restrictions around wedding numbers from September."

Wedding planner Tara Fay said that while she was "delighted" that weddings will increase to 100 guests from August 5, there remained issues to be ironed out.

She said those couples getting married from August 5 need to know now whether they will need vaccine certs for all their guests - and not on the morning of their wedding.

Ms Fay, president of Ireland's Wedding International Professional Association, said it had devised its own set of "comprehensive" health and safety guidelines, including specific guidance for photographers, venues, hotels, florists, marquees, floor plans and transport providers.

However, she was concerned the Department of Health was now going to create guidelines for an area that it "knows nothing about", and she invited Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to engage with her group.

"They know about infection control and everything related to that but our concern is that they may not take a holistic approach to weddings and there are so many different areas involved," she said.

Noel Cunningham of Harvey's Point in Donegal, suggested having adult-only weddings to address fears over having unvaccinated children in attendance.

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