Set ground rules and keep it intimate: 10 tips for hosting a COVID-safe wedding



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Philip Russo, Monash University and Brett Mitchell, University of Newcastle

Spring and summer in Australia and the gradual easing of restrictions means we can expect weddings, with more guests, back on the calendar.

However, any wedding you plan or attend will be quite different to one held before COVID-19.

The rules around how many wedding guests are allowed change over time, and differ by state and territory. You can find the most up-to-date advice for your jurisdiction by following the links in this guide.

Besides following restrictions on how many people can attend, if you’re planning a wedding, there’s lots you can do to minimise the risk of coronavirus spread on the big day.

Why can pandemic weddings be risky?

We know COVID-19 is spread by close contact with an infected person, contact with droplets from coughs or sneezes (larger droplets or tiny aerosolised ones), or touching surfaces the droplets have contaminated.

We also know of particular COVID-19 outbreaks associated with weddings. Why? Because weddings tick all the boxes that make certain events especially risky for transmission. Weddings usually involve:

  • large numbers of people, close together

  • people congregating for a long time

  • poor ventilation, if inside

  • aerobic activity, if dancing

  • lots of singing or loud voices

  • alcohol (meaning potentially less COVID-safe behaviour)

  • sharing objects, food or drink.

So to reduce the risk during the pandemic, couples and guests need to consider these issues.




Read more:
Coronavirus restrictions in your state


What to think about when planning

1. Smaller is better

The number of guests that can attend varies depending on where you live, the size of the venue, and whether the wedding is inside or outside.

But even if you’re allowed 100 guests or more, generally speaking, the fewer the better to reduce your risk of transmission.

2. Outside is better

The best venue will be outdoors — open air, natural ventilation and lots of space. That’s because the risk of transmission indoors is around 18 times higher than outdoors.

If you choose an inside venue, ask about ventilation, because poor ventilation and crowding can increase the risk of transmission.




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3. Keep it short

Instead of the usual ceremony followed by a reception that goes late into the night, keep it short. For example, a ten-minute service followed by an hour or two of celebration.

We know the risk of COVID-19 spread is related to length of exposure, so the shorter the time spent in close contact — particularly in confined spaces — the lower the risk.

4. Plan for physical distancing

If there’s a sit-down meal, use only every second seat. So a table that normally sits ten will only accommodate five.

Place markings on the floor to indicate an appropriate distance to stand apart. And encourage guests to avoid congregating around entrances, exits, toilets and bars.

A couple dancing at their outdoor wedding, surrounded by guests clapping.
Outside is better than inside, if possible.
Shutterstock

5. Tell everyone the rules

With every invitation, include this brief list of rules, so everybody knows what to expect:

  • please social distance by 1.5m, including when dancing

  • regularly use hand sanitiser available throughout the venue

  • use the COVIDSafe app

  • stay home if you are unwell (including the bridal party).

That last one is particularly important. If guests feel unwell (even with mild, flu-like symptoms), they must not attend.

And if you are unwell, cancel. We know it’s hard to cancel an event you’ve been looking forward to, but this important message remains the same. If you have any symptoms, stay at home and get tested at the earliest opportunity.

6. Ditch the vigorous dancing

Skip the loud music and vigorous dancing. This only invites close contact combined with aerobic activity and loud vocalisation. You don’t want to turn this into a gym class because they too have been associated with outbreaks.




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7. Watch the alcohol

Consider limiting the amount of alcohol served. Rather than the traditional endless supply of beer and wine, consider one or two classy cocktails per guest.

The shorter duration of the celebration should also reduce the likelihood of poor decision-making that comes with drinking too much.

8. Tag everyone’s glass

Place an easily identifiable tag on each glass so there’s no confusion about which one belongs to whom. That way you minimise the chance of people drinking from someone else’s and transferring the virus via contaminated glasses.

And on the day, raise your glasses rather than clinking them.

Wine glass with tag on the stem on a party table
Is that my glass? With a tag, you’ll always know.
Shutterstock

9. No buffet

Don’t share food or utensils. That means no buffets or serveries. Engage some wait staff to serve the food instead.

It’s a good idea to ensure your venue has a COVID-safe plan. This will guide the processes waiters and other staff serving your guests will follow.

10. Provide hand sanitiser

Put hand-sanitiser dispensers on every table, and at entrances and exits, at a minimum, and encourage your guests to use it.

How to be a COVID-safe wedding guest

If you’re lucky enough to be one of the select folks invited to the wedding, you have a responsibility to keep yourself and others safe.

Frequently use the hand sanitiser provided, or stay away altogether if you’re sick.

Follow the guidelines for your jurisdiction regarding mask use.




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Nice to meet you, now back off! How to socially distance without seeming rude


Don’t rush up to others expecting warm hugs and kisses. Respectfully keep your distance, and encourage others to do the same.

And don’t kiss the bride — unless you’re the one who has just married her.

A wedding during this pandemic will be different, but still fun. Remember, at the end of the day, the happy couple will still end up being married, which is what it’s all about, right?The Conversation

Philip Russo, Associate Professor, Director Cabrini Monash University Department of Nursing Research, Monash University and Brett Mitchell, Professor of Nursing, University of Newcastle

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Dine in or walk away? How to tell if a venue is COVID safe in NSW



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Lisa Bricknell, CQUniversity Australia

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for more businesses to register as COVID Safe, as the state recorded 19 new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday night. Berejiklian said:

If I walk into a venue and I’m not comfortable with how COVID safe that venue is, I’d leave. I expect patrons to do the same.

Good advice — and timely, too. As NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said on Wednesday, NSW is “at a knife’s edge, a critical point”.

Here’s what to look for when you walk into a bar, cafe or restaurant to know if it’s COVID safe — and how to know when to walk out the door.




Read more:
How to stay safe in restaurants and cafes


What to look for

Familiarise yourself with the rules business must follow to register as a COVID Safe business in NSW. The rules are here.

Screenshot of the steps to become a COVID Safe business.
Steps to become a COVID Safe business, according to NSW Health.
NSW Health

Check to see the venue’s COVID Safe certificate is clearly displayed and that they are taking every patron’s contact details. If a patron is dining in, the venue must be recording their contact details or checking they are registered with the COVIDSafe app.

If they’re not recording people’s details in some way, leave. If a COVID-19 positive case visits that venue, contact tracers are unable to do their job unless all patrons’ details are recorded.

Check if tables are appropriately spaced and that cutlery, napkins, glasses, plates, bowls or straws aren’t left lying on tables — even if they are disposable. Nothing should be on the table for people to pick up (or in a tub for patrons to collect themselves). Cutlery and other utensils should be brought out by staff when your order is ready. The idea is to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 positive person handling your utensils.

Your table should be 1.5m away from other tables but I’d even be trying to keep 1.5m from friends at my own table. Personally, I’d also want to see my friends wearing masks (it’s different if you’re dining with people with whom you live). Even if you or your friend had a COVID-19 test yesterday and it came back negative, that doesn’t mean you’re negative today. You could have been infected in the past 12 hours.




Read more:
Heading back to the office? Here’s how to protect yourself and your colleagues from coronavirus


Watch what happens when a patron leaves. Are staff appropriately sanitising tables and chairs with spray and, ideally, disposable paper towel? They should be.

Look around to see if the venue provides hand sanitiser for patrons — and keep an eye on the staff to make sure they are using it too.

Staff, ideally, should be wearing masks, in my view. I know that’s not yet compulsory in many places, but masks provide a barrier if a staff member is unknowingly positive. It’s hard to make patrons wear masks, because they have to eat, but I’d be looking for the staff to be wearing them (all staff, not just a couple).

Check if the venue is enforcing contactless transactions to reduce the handling of money, cards and pin pads. I know the evidence about the role of surfaces in spreading this coronavirus is still emerging but we should stick to universal precautions — if something can be avoided, it should be.

Staff should be limiting the number of patrons at the venue, and the number of patrons allowed in the venue at any one time should be clearly displayed. If people are lining up outside, make sure they are being spaced out too.

In general, aim for an open-air setting if you can, such as a beer garden or an open-air cafe. The more fresh air flow you have around you, the more transmission risk is reduced. Any sort of indoor socialising, where air flow is limited, is inherently risky at the moment in NSW.

People sitting in a restaurant with coronavirus restrictions
Eating out? Check to see if staff are sanitising surfaces, wearing masks, using contactless payment, and spacing out customers.
Shutterstock

When to leave

Breaches of any of the above would be enough to make me want to leave. But here are some more triggers that would make me think, “I’m getting out of here.”

If you see staff or patrons with symptoms — they have a cough, or cold, or seem unwell — leave.

If they are not wiping surfaces or tables, or allowing patrons to come in and seat themselves, leave. Patrons should be shown to tables that have been sanitised.

If the place is starting to fill up and you sense physical distancing is not being observed — leave.

A critical point

NSW is at an especially critical point. I’d be very, very careful right now. If I was in a Sydney hotspot, I wouldn’t be going out to dinner at all.

NSW is doing a good job of putting out spot fires but any one of those spot fires can flare up if people aren’t taking precautions.

If you thinking of going out, and you are wondering if it is risky, then you are better off not doing it. If you feel you have to go, then mitigate your risk by moving the event outside or making sure everyone is distancing and wearing masks.

COVID-19 is a really serious disease that affects young and old. You can get sick or even die, even if you are young and healthy — and the evidence on long term effects is worrying. And of course, healthy people can pass it on to someone who is in a high risk category. It’s so important that everyone continues to observe the appropriate protocols — today. This week. This weekend.

Until COVID-19 either burns out globally or we get a vaccine — and neither of those are right on the horizon and may not happen at all — then this may become the new normal, sadly. Infection control measures remain our best chance of keeping the pandemic in check.The Conversation

Lisa Bricknell, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health, CQUniversity Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.