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Local venues losing weddings to the North due to difference in public health measures

Local venues losing weddings to the North due to difference in public health measures
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A local wedding venue operator has warned that venues in border areas risk losing major business to the North due to the difference in public health measures on either side of the border.

Just 50 people are permitted to attend indoor gatherings in the Republic whereas multiple numbers are allowed in Northern Ireland based on the size of the function room while also adhering to social distancing guidelines.

As a results Darver Castle events manager Anne Darcy says that some couples have been splitting their celebrations between venues on both sides of the border or moving their entire celebrations to the north.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Anne said that business at Darver Castle had fallen by close to 90% since Covid-19 hit.

“We have quite a big banquet hall here and we should be able to seat 150 comfortably to include social distancing. We can only seat 50 people including our staff,” she said.

Ms Darcy said that some guests do not want to reduce their guest list and as a result they are going to venues in Northern Ireland.

“I have lost a few couples; they don’t want to cut the numbers. They are saying to us ‘look guys we are going to have to cancel here and we are going to have to go somewhere in the North’. As we are so close to the border, it’s just wreaking havoc with us with couples at the moment,” she said.

Last Thursday, Ayla and Gary Donnelly exchanged vows in front of 80 guests in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Tullysaran in Co Armagh.

Their wedding reception took place in Darver Castle.

Due to the public health guidelines around 35 of their guests could not attend their wedding reception and Gary said knocking guests off the list was an unpleasant experience.

“I was really uncomfortable with telling guests that we had invited to our wedding and they had accepted the invitation, that they couldn’t come,” he said.

Ayla described her big day at Darver Castle as “fabulous” but felt there was ample room to seat more guests safely.

“They were able to socially distance people very well, but Darver Castle is a very big venue and without a shadow of a doubt they could have accommodated 80 [people] no problem at all, insuring social distancing as well. So, I think it should really depend on the venue more-so [than] one rule for everybody.”

Read more on RTÉ News here.