**update 04/05/20 I wrote this blog in February and since then so much has changed our lives not just in the UK and Italy but across the globe. The wedding industry, travel and tourism has been majorly affected by lockdowns, border closures, airlines grounding their fleet and what is going to happen in the immediate future. What are weddings going to look like? It has been an unsettling time for couples who are now not just dealing with Covid-19 as the uninvited wedding guest in theory. I am in the process of helping many couples with postponing their wedding against a series of unknowns. If you are unsure about your options please use the email below to get in touch and we can talk through your situation and options.
Covid-19 – the uninvited wedding guest
The uninvited wedding guest in this case is Covid-19. As an Italy Wedding Planner based in the UK I have an interest in what is happening in Europe for my clients and also for myself as I will be travelling between UK and Italy during the destination wedding season.
All my weddings so far are outside of the infected area but as the impact to travel and tourism is a major concern I wanted to address some questions that may now be at the forefront of your wedding planning.
Covid-19 Media Reporting
The uninvited wedding guest – COVID-19 topic is very much in the media and sensational newspaper headlines are not doing much to calm a serious situation that is fuelled with each new update. It is an unsettling time for couples who have their weddings this year.
The recent announcement that some small towns in northern Italy are now on lock down and that BA and Easyjet have reduced their flight schedules to those areas where there has been an increased number of infected cases may give some 2020 weddings couples cause for concern.
I will do my best to address these concerns and also highlight some important considerations that may arise due to Government and organisations decisions which can impact on travel and tourism which will include the destination wedding sector.
Factual versus Sensational Reporting
Do not get me wrong this is a serious situation as the spread of infection is rapid but some of the numbers being quoted are alarmist when out of context of the bigger picture so here is what the World Health Organisation (WHO) says about COVID-19.
“The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2% of people with the disease have died. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.”
WHO website has information and guidance on how to protect yourself and also others you can find this information by visiting the links I have included at the end of this blog.
Please also bear in mind that some of the smaller remote towns in Italy have a high population of elderly people who are considered to be more vulnerable to infection and a likely reason for the high number of people recently infected.
From the practical perspective of wedding planning, here are some things that you may need to take into consideration or action for you and your guests.
How to get yourself prepared as the situation changes
Unforeseen circumstances can cause additional stress, wondering what is going to happen or what steps you may need to take can take its toll especially when it comes to your wedding day.
A situation that has global impact where Government decisions may override any Plan B considerations, only allows for reactive steps. Stay informed and prepare yourself to take necessary action if needed.
Communicate with your guests
Reach out to your guests in a personal communication to acknowledge the situation around travelling to your wedding, even if your chosen region of the country isn’t an area that has been infected.
Show your support and understanding to those guests who may decide against RSVP-ing their attendance.
You can refer them to some of the key factual websites listed below to allay any fears and concerns.
Stay on top of the situation
TERMS & CONDITIONS:
These will cover payments, late changes and cancellations. As a precautionary measure review your agreements to understand the impact to late changes, reduced numbers and cancellation.
One of the advantages of working with a wedding planner is that they will provide guidance and support you to implement your decisions or take necessary action on communications.
If cancelling events or services as a personal decision and NOT as a result of Government advice you may be bound to commitments on payments and minimum numbers..
As mentioned above BA and Easyjet have put in place reduced flight schedules to some areas of Europe, this is due to the lack of demand and further anticipated drop in numbers as a response to the Coronavirus situation.
If you and your guests have already booked flights keep an eye on what the airlines are doing as their proposed alternative travel options may not fit in with your planned itinerary.
Check individual Airline websites, so far airlines are not currently refunding flight costs for cancellations if there has been no directive from the government to stop flights. To find out current travel advice visit the Foreign Travel Advice pages (link below)
Contact your travel and wedding insurer to get confirmation on what cover you have and what you are covered for given an emergency situation. It is doubtful that “Essential Travel” will include weddings.
If you decide to travel against government guidelines this may render your insurance as invalid.
If you are abroad at the time the Government makes an announcement to repatriation check what expenses your insurer will cover.
The Association of British Insurers also has a Q&A on travel implications based on the Coronavirus (link below).
I am not sure on the protocol or ethical responsibility of what to do here but it may be worth informing your employer that you are attending a wedding abroad to understand their view on this in light of the 14 day isolation period on your return.
BE PROACTIVE & PROTECT YOURSELF:
You can also find advice on what to do if you are travelling in enclosed spaces and precautionary measures such as washing hands, using medical alcohol as a disinfectant, covering your cough or sneeze and standing 1 metre from someone who you are aware may cough or sneeze.
If you have recently returned from an infected area within the last 14 days, information can be found on what to do on both the NHS website and also www.GOV.UK website about self-isolating.
It is only suggested to wear a mask if you think you may have been infected or you are caring for someone who has been infected or is showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Check in with your UK national and local health service who will have the most up-to-date information and procedures to follow in your area.
My advice is to remain informed so you are prepared to make decisions and take action about your wedding plans.
I am planning on business as usual, and hopefully avoid that table in the corner for the uninvited guest.
Do visit these informative websites:
World Health Organisation World Health Organisation
Chief Medical Officer UK Chief Medical Officer UK
Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Travel advice) FCO