Couples due to get married over the coming weeks have been left feeling confused and abandoned after being told that they cannot hold a civil marriage ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, despite the fact that religious weddings have been allowed to take place.
Several couples have contacted Lovin Malta and voiced their frustration at the present situation.
“We are being told by the Health Department that marriage ceremonies are allowed to continue happening because churches have not been closed down,” one woman who is due to marry in the first week of May told Lovin Malta.
“But despite this, they will not allow us to get married in an outdoor garden and instead, we are being told we need to get married at the registrar with only four people, bride and groom included.”
She questioned why it was that couples choosing to get married indoors, in a church, are allowed to have their family members present on their special day, yet those choosing to do so civilly weren’t being allowed the same treatment.
Another reader who got in touch voiced similar concerns, adding that he would have no problem accepting the rule if it were applied across the board.
“If it were everyone I’d say fair enough, but then it isn’t right for me to see services with up to 100 guests being allowed in churches because at that point it becomes a civil rights issue,” this second person said.
He too was planning to get married civilly in May and had planned to do so on the roof of a hotel, having already reduced his guest list from 20 to five people.
He said that he had written to the health authorities but had not yet received any reply leaving him and his bride-to-be uncertain about how to proceed. The lack of clarity, he said, was turning what is meant to be a special day into quite an ordeal.
According to guidelines issued by the Church in March, and which have been approved by the authorities, wedding services can take place in churches provided that social distancing measures are observed and the church door is kept closed during the ceremony since public masses are currently not allowed.
The number of guests cannot exceed one person for every 4 sq.m up to a maximum of 100 guests, including the bride and groom.
The guidelines were published on 11th March and were due to remain in place up until last Sunday 11th April.
Last week, the government announced that all schools will have reopened by today, with masses open to the public allowed as of Monday 18th April.
Wedding receptions may be allowed to resume after 1st June, though a decision confirming this is expected over the coming weeks.
Asked about the matter during today’s COVID-19 briefing, Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci did not offer any clarity, instead repeating that weddings will be allowed as of 1st June.
She did not reply to questions on whether the risks associated with an outdoor gathering were lower than that for indoor ceremonies.
Have you faced similar problems with your civil wedding?