After President Cyril Ramaphosa’s most recent national address on 1 February 2021, the regulations were updated. Lockdown restrictions eased, however, South Africa remains on level 3 alert level lockdown. The most recent article addressed valuable details on this topic, nowhere is an update. We have received specific guidance on this topic from our local South African Police Services (SAPS).
Let’s answer the BIG Question “Is a Wedding a Gathering or a Social Gathering or a Faith-based Gathering?”
The Gazette answers each of these areas, 1. Gathering, 2. Social gathering, 3. Faith-based gathering – very differently. The Gazette doesn’t specifically mention the exact and specific term of a wedding. Therefore, we sought further insight and guidance from the local SAPS, who we were directed to from Covid19Exceptions@dha.gov.za This important clarity on which category weddings fall into, impacts if the wedding is permitted. And if permitted, how to implement the regulations accordingly.
The SAPS authority confirms that a wedding is considered a GATHERING. Here are the reasons why:
A gathering is more than 1 person
A wedding is NOT a social gathering because a social gathering is, for example, a festival, event, or concert. A social gathering is an ‘open invite’ social gathering of people.
A wedding has a formal agenda followed and restricted, to this agenda.
A wedding is NOT a faith-based gathering because you do not have to believe, in order to get married or to attend a wedding.
A wedding is an organized gathering in which specific people are ‘invited’. Each person attending the wedding has a formal invitation from the Bride and Groom. Access to the wedding is fully controlled.
A wedding includes the ceremony and reception, not one or the other been separated.
The SAPS informed us that the wedding venue is responsible to be well-informed and abide by the regulations. Speak to the SAPS in the area you intend to have your wedding for guidance and have written consent from them on the same.
So, liaise directly with your wedding venue to design the plan of action and way forwards for your wedding. Make very sure that your contract with the wedding venue has been updated and has detailed terms to fully support these Gazette Regulations.
Therefore, weddings (both the wedding ceremony AND wedding reception) are permitted now,
on the condition, the guidelines of the number of people and protocols are strictly adhered to. The venue is responsible to initiate and ensure the updated regulations are in full accordance with most of the Gazette. Therefore, contact your venue, for they will tell you what can be accommodated, their venue capacity, meter, and the plan of action.
Most importantly, ALL Covid-19 restrictions and regulations must be taken seriously and fully adhered to. These are:
The 1.5-meter social distance between all people attending the wedding. Consider your seating plan: A table that previously seated 10 people may now have a maximum of 5 or 6 people. Read how to implement and respect these guidelines at your wedding HERE
Hand Sanitisers frequently available throughout the venue
Although we remain on level 3, the regulations have somewhat relaxed. Here’s an overview:
The gazette explicitly outlines the regulations for a gathering (ie: wedding) as follows:
(Please note that if you are located in a “hotspot area”, that the area-specific regulations may differ as shared in this article. Refer to the Gazette to see if your area is a hotspot.)
1. Gathering sizes
Gatherings may not exceed 50 people indoors in a venue or 100 people at an outdoor venue. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers, then 50% of the venue size.
· Given this, an indoor venue is capped at a maximum of 50 people (not exceeding 50% of the floor space)
· Furthermore, an outdoor venue is capped at a maximum of 100 people
*Desert Bars, Harvest tables, and canapes are probably not your best option!
There are no restrictions suggesting that you can't have these catering options at your wedding, however, it would be wise to consult with your wedding venue, and perhaps have an alternative.
Canapes can be portioned out and served to guests as individually plated starters or a little
2. Curfew times are now 23h00 – 04h00
During the previous ‘adjusted level 3 of lockdown’, the curfew was in place from 9 pm – 5 am. With the curfew extension now by 3 hours, this is great news for the wedding agenda! President Ramaphosa said that the entertainment establishments must close by 22h00 to allow staff to return home in time before curfew.
3. The sale of alcohol is now permitted!
The sale of alcohol by licensed premises is permitted now Monday to Thursday from 10h00 to 18h00.
Wine and microbreweries are permitted to sell alcohol for off-site consumption.
The sale of alcohol for on-site consumption is permitted from 10h00 – 22h00, for example in a restaurant.
4. Tobacco can continue to be sold
5. International travel continues to be permitted (subject to some travel restrictions)
This allows international guests to attend physically – not just virtually.
Subject to some restrictions:
Any person traveling internationally must produce a valid Covid-19 test result, which must be no older than 72 hours. If the traveler does not produce the Covid-19 test result, a possible quarantine period could evolve, and this will be at the traveler’s check with your travel agent for more information.
Make sure that your wedding guests are well-informed of their individual travel regulations and requirements.
6. Face masks continue to be mandatory in public spaces
7. Travel between provinces in South Africa continues to be permitted
Wedding guests and vendor suppliers can continue to travel nationally anywhere within South Africa.
8. Sanitising protocols MUST be applied
Hand sanitizer stations are the new wedding trend. The hand sanitizer stands can be done up, with personalized signboards, décor, and flowers.
9. Beaches, public pools, parks are reopened
Beach weddings can take place again, and you can definitely have that get-away bachelorette party, and lounge out at the Lodges pool with all your bridesmaids.
The BIG Question is answered: A wedding is in the category of a ‘gathering’.
Therefore, weddings are permitted now. This is on condition that the guidelines and protocols are strictly adhered to. The venue is responsible to implement, follow and ensure the updated regulations are in full accordance with the most recent Gazette. Ensure most importantly to abide by regulations of a Maximum number of people, social distancing, face masks, sanitizing, curfew.
Although South Africa stays on alert lockdown level 3, the restrictions have somewhat eased. Improved restrictions include: Adjusted curfew time, gathering size, alcohol sale, reopening of beaches, pools, and parks.
Weddings are permitted.
*Note from the Editor: This article is merely intended to explore grounding information proposed to sober wedding indecision. By no means is this article a comprehensively seamless analysis or official information. This information is accurate to the date of publishing, from reliable sources at SAPS. More information will unveil as the government releases further information.