Wedding venues for South Asian families argue that new government guidelines to lift guest number restrictions are difficult to follow as long as social distancing rules remain in place.

On Monday (June 21), the rules for the number of guests at wedding receptions were relaxed so that happy couples can invite as many people as they want to their big day.

However, social distancing guidelines mean that venues that cater to larger numbers of people will still need to limit the number, in some cases by hundreds.

One venue owner argued that the traditionally large South Asian weddings made planning difficult.

Waseem Atif, 38, owner of Shamas Banqueting on Walford Road, Sparkbrook, said: “We are not happy with the new rules.

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“With social distancing, we will allow around 200 guests in our venue, as we have six people per table.

“However, South Asian weddings don’t have 100-200 wedding guests, we usually have 500-1000 guests. This is our culture and tradition.

“So it will be difficult for families.”

Waseem Atif, 38, owner of Shamas Banqueting

The rules went into effect yesterday (June 21st) when UK weddings can invite over 30 guests with no limit.

And while the venues can determine their own capacity, social distancing still needs to be practiced.

Waseem continued: “The government doesn’t know our culture, we don’t just make 50-100 people. South Asians, whether Punjabi, South Indian or Pakistani, will save their entire lives for their weddings.”

Despite the difficulties, Waseem said the venue is well prepared for social distancing measures with hand sanitizer, face masks, guest book signatures and directions.

And with the announcement being relaxed on June 18, bookings for July through August weddings are inundated.

He said, “Since the speech we have had 40-50 calls a day, normally we only have 6-7 calls. People want to book now.

“The government doesn’t realize how big the Asian hospitality industry is, we needed more vacation because our rent, insurance and maintenance are so high. We hire waiters, DJs, cleaners, etc.

Shamas Banquet, Walford Road, Sparkbrook

“If we get into another lockdown, I and other event owners will consider shutting down and starting another business.”

Mohammed Manur Rashid, 47, director of the Badshah Palace (restaurant and banquet hall) said, “We are beginning to see that the number of guests for Asian weddings is falling.

“We cannot ignore the pandemic. The main difference between our (South Asian) weddings and others is that our functions are larger.

“Social distancing will therefore help with larger functions, which is very much appreciated.”

Mohammed wishes the new guidelines had been introduced sooner.

He said, “We are in favor of the new rules, but this could have been done earlier. As a banquet hall, we could have held weddings more efficiently if the rules had been in place beforehand.

“The government has misunderstood how weddings work. We tried to influence the Members and the Council beforehand.

Badshah palace

“It may be late, but at least our industry has a chance to regenerate.”

Based on Walsall Road, between Perry Barr and Great Barr, the venue will accommodate 300-400 guests with social distancing.

The director continued, “I just wish the government had trusted us to follow the guidelines earlier. If they didn’t dawdle, larger venues could have been booked in advance.”

Dancing and singing at weddings remains restricted. and face covers must be worn indoors by all persons 11 years of age and older, including staff.

However, the married couple and the person leading the ceremony are not required to do so.

Weddings held in private, outdoor settings must conduct a risk assessment to ensure that the number of invited guests is safe.

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