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Urgent clarification as GRO is willingly flaunting government advice on COVID-19

Mark Dawson made this Freedom of Information request to General Register Office

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Dear General Register Office,

I have tried to contact your head, Mark Thomson on an urgent matter. Please could you forward the below

From: Mark Dawson <[email address]>
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2020 at 21:51
Subject: Urgent request for clarity
To: <[email address]>

I appreciate it is wholly unusual to write in this way but I hope this is short and sweet. It is beyond urgent. We run a licensed wedding venue that is obviously facing difficult times.
We are in a difficult position (as are over 400 other venues we are in contact with through an industry chatroom) as the local registrars are still adopting a position of "business as usual" with regards weddings.

This is promoting couples to believe that their wedding can go ahead as the Government body who is associated with their day is actively supporting their continuation. We believe this is highly inappropriate as it is in direct contradiction to the unequivocal and unambiguous government request to help protect the vulnerable and the NHS in this country. I believe this falls under your remit.

We recognise that a ceremony in a registry office for say 5 people may still be appropriate. At an external venue for 100 is not. We as venues are toothless in the fight to support the government if couples are effectively being encouraged to continue by registrars saying they will attend such a gathering.

Please please please can you and the GRO give clear and unambiguous guidance to registrars first thing tomorrow (18th March) and as a matter of genuine urgency in a national crisis. This position has to stop and cannot continue. It feels so wrong and is not something that would be so damaging to the brilliant registrars around the country if it comes out they are supporting gatherings. Couples will not cancel and are trying to force suppliers to go ahead because the registrars are willing to support a large gathering of people. Put a limit on 10 or less people and the situation is immediately resolved. There are venues that are distraught (we are not facing this scenario) because registrars are giving couples the go ahead for significant weddings this weekend. This is a time of national emergency.

Please help and apologies for the direct email - which I hope reaches you. I believe it will take you just minutes to act on this and it could save lives.

Kind regards
Mark Dawson
Co-Owner and Director
Brookfield Barn
A&D Venues Ltd

FOI, General Register Office

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P Newton left an annotation ()

The OP has rather over boiled on the issue, the government guidance at the time the request was made was nothing more than advice and I don’t believe it to have changed significantly to date. There is no command, no martial law, no mandatory order and the Coronavirus Act 2020 is unenforceable for lack of certificate of proclamation by the Queen, aside from other constitutional inadequacies. Hope that assists.

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