1. Section 5(1)(a) - Marriage and civil partnership
1.1 Section 5(1)(a) of the Extension and Expiry Act requires the Scottish Ministers to report on progress being made towards marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations and associated celebratory events being able to be held without restrictions arising from the spread or incidence of Covid-19.
1.2 By virtue of section 5(2)(a) of the Extension and Expiry Act, the report must include information on the restrictions remaining in place as respects the holding of marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations and associated celebratory events.
Easing of restrictions
1.3 Since the Bill for the Extension and Expiry Act was passed by the Parliament, on 19 July 2021 all parts of Scotland not currently there moved to level 0 of the Strategic Framework of protection levels.
1.4 At protection level 0, under guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers, up to 200 people could attend a wedding. The physical distance requirement indoors in public places between different household groups reduced to 1 metre. Outdoors in public places, groups of up to 15 people from up to 15 households were no longer required to maintain physical distance from each other. The relevant provisions of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (the "Levels Regulations") on physical distancing were amended accordingly.
1.5 The "Levels Regulations" were revoked on 9 August 2021. A number of restrictions and requirements which affected marriage ceremonies, civil partnership registrations and associated celebratory events were thereby removed.
1.6 The Levels Regulations included a requirement that a person responsible for a place of worship, carrying on a business or providing a service must take measures to minimise the risk of exposure to Covid-19, including to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, appropriate physical distancing between people from different households. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (the "new Regulations") do not contain such a requirement: please see below for information on a requirement to have regard to guidance.
1.7 Legal restrictions on gatherings at private dwellings in the Levels Regulations which affected celebratory events in this setting were revoked and not replaced in the new Regulations.
1.8 Guidance published by the Scottish Government on the number of people who may attend marriage ceremonies, civil partnership registrations and receptions at each protection level of the Strategic Framework no longer applies. That guidance was withdrawn on 9 August 2021.
1.9 Under regulation 4 of the new Regulations, those responsible for a place of worship, carrying on a business or providing a service are required to continue to have regard to guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers about measures which should be taken to minimise exposure to Covid-19. We continue to publish guidance and information about good practice during the pandemic, including for hospitality businesses.
1.10 Under regulation 5 of the new Regulations, there is a requirement to use face coverings in certain indoor public places, subject to exceptions. The places where face coverings must be worn include any indoor public place or part of an indoor public place where a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration is taking place, including any restaurant, café, bar or public house for the duration of the ceremony or registration.
1.11 We have continued to make provision in the new Regulations for some exemptions from the requirement for face coverings in certain indoor places that are relevant to marriage and civil Partnerships and associated celebratory events.
1.12 The couple marrying or entering a civil partnership are exempt from wearing a face covering for the duration of the marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration. This is provided that the couple are able to maintain at least 1 metre from others present, or there is a screen or partition between them and others present. There is a similar exemption for the celebrant or local authority registrar leading the marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration.
1.13 If one of the couple is being accompanied down the aisle (or the equivalent), both they and the guest or guests accompanying them, do not require to wear a face covering at this point in the ceremony or registration.
1.14 From 9 August, those who are dancing indoors, including at a celebratory event associated with a marriage or civil partnership, can remove their face covering.
1.15 Under regulation 3 of the new Regulations, those responsible for relevant hospitality or entertainment premises must continue to take measures to
support Test and Protect, such as to ensure the collection of visitor contact details. This will include those affected premises hosting celebratory events associated with a marriage or civil partnership.
1.16 These requirements will continue to be regularly reviewed to ensure they remain proportionate.