Premier urged to say ‘I do’ to bigger weddings
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has called for strict rules limiting weddings to just 100 people to be eased as soon as possible, backing a call from a powerful group of venue operators who want larger COVID-safe celebrations and bigger fines for people breaking the rules.
Weddings and funerals in Greater Sydney were capped at 100 people - under the four square metre rule- on January 3, with a little over 12 hours notice.
Since major changes to ease restrictions in December, wedding venues have faced three different sets of rules.
The latest change has angered venue owners who believe weddings are being unfairly targeted.
Four venue operators - who cater for a large proportion of Sydney's wedding market - are now calling for caps to be lifted to ease the suffering of couples forced to cut guest lists.
Increasing maximum numbers to 300 would put the celebrations in line with total patrons allowed in hospitality venues.
In order to make larger weddings safer, venues could advise police of total numbers at upcoming functions and face a larger fine if they break the rules.
"We would love to sit with NSW Health and understand what the concern is and why weddings are different to other types of events," The Venue Alexandria CEO Hilton Cohn said.
Mr Cohn accused the government of "turning our function centres and venues on and off like a light switch".
"They just do not understand the lead time involved in weddings."
Police have issued two $5000 for venues holding weddings in breach of public health orders this month.
But Navarra Venues CEO Sal Navarra, who angered the government in July with a threat to defy strict COVID restrictions, said venues want to prove they can follow strict guidelines if restrictions are eased.
"Raise the fines, put a (police) task-force (in place). And let us prove as venues that we can, that we can abide by the rules," he said.
Meanwhile, couples are apparently looking to the regions to avoid restrictions on Sydney celebrations.
Outside Greater Sydney, weddings are not capped and operate under the two square metre rule.
"We are hearing more and more from our customers that they're actually going out of Sydney with larger groups to have the celebrations," Mr Cohn said.
Senior ministers are now seeking to ease restrictions on weddings as soon as possible.
"Wedding operators and those getting married have done it very tough," Treasurer Perrottet told The Daily Telegraph.
"We want to give them more freedom to host larger COVID-safe events as soon as we can."
Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not outline when the most recent round of restrictions could be eased yesterday, saying decisions are made when health officials are "confident" that chains of transmission have been contained.
Restaurant and Catering Australia CEO Wes Lambert backed the call to ease restrictions on weddings and slap bigger fines on anyone breaking the new rules.
He said the impact of COVID-19 for function centres has "been made worse by a constant stream of rule changes, contradictions and ambiguity" in restrictions.
Originally published as Premier urged to say 'I do' to bigger weddings