South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has written to the First Minister to request that the Scottish Government create a working group for venues who cater for weddings and civil ceremonies in Scotland.

This working group would be similar to the groups which were set up to allow faith groups and outdoor professional sports to return. This request comes following a number of constituent wedding venues and businesses contacting Ms Harper with their concerns as a route-map through and out of Covid19 is progressed for many businesses affected by coronavirus lockdown.

In the letter which communicates the feelings of her constituents, the South Scotland MSP has said that the creation of a weddings and civil ceremony working group will bring together people from across the sector to discuss examples of best practice, ideas and suggestions on how best to move forward as restrictions ease further. Ms Harper states that, more generally, the group would allow those directly involved in organising, hosting and arranging weddings and ceremonies to work directly with Government to help shape the necessary processes and guidelines which inform policy.

As part of Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route-map out of lockdown, weddings and civil ceremonies have been allowed to restart indoors at public venues, including registration offices, hospitality venues and places of worship as well as outdoors.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“I have written to the First Minister following requests from several constituent businesses across Dumfries & Galloway who specialise in hosting, arranging and planning weddings and civil ceremonies.

“These businesses have suggested that the Scottish Government set up a working group on weddings and civil ceremonies which would allow the businesses in the weddings sector to join – with government – to propose and share examples of the specific activities that could make weddings go ahead safely, and to input the suggestions so that future guidance and policy could be proposed.

“Those working in the sector are the experts on their particular experience, and it is important to hear directly from them.

“In my letter to the First Minister, I have also included a number of suggestions from local businesses – including from GG’s Yard near Gatehouse of Fleet – who have a capacity of 350 guests which will obviously have to be reduced because of social distancing. I have requested that the Scottish Government release indicative dates to the sector on when restrictions will be eased – dates which would, of course, be subject to medical and scientific advice.

“I look forward to hearing back from the First Minister and would encourage anyone to get in touch should they have any questions.”

Duncan McConchie, owner of GG’s Yard near Gatehouse of Fleet said;

“The Scottish Government have steered us through Covid-19 brilliantly. However, the wedding and events industry is now lacking any route map or guidance from government as to how our industry can open again. This lack of clarity is leading to complete loss of faith from couples, to venues to suppliers and is resulting in massive financial loss for the industry which is worth over £40 million to Dumfries & Galloway”.