A St Andrews wedding venue manager says coronavirus is devastating the industry and has called for more help from the UK Government.
Samantha Nisbet, from Kinkell Byre, has had to postpone 70 events this year as restrictions have made planning impossible for many couples.
While she has benefited from business support schemes set up by Government, including furlough, many of the local suppliers she uses are not eligible for help and are at risk of losing their businesses by the end of the year.
“It’s affecting independent suppliers like florists, caterers, photographers and self-catering accommodation and some of them won’t be here for weddings rearranged for next year,” she said.
“That will be pretty devastating for couples who won’t get what they planned.”
Samantha’s plight, and that of other Fife wedding businesses, was raised at Westminster by Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain, who said further support was essential.
Everything that makes a wedding has been stopped.”
Samantha Nisbet, Kinkell Byre.
Kinkell Byre normally hosts more than 80 weddings a year but has had no business at all since February.
Tier 3 restrictions in Fife mean no more than 20 guests are allowed to attend, all of whom must wear a mask, and there must be no music or speeches.
What are the rules for weddings in Scotland?
Tier 0 – No more than 50 people can attend.
Tiers 1,2 and 3 – No more than 20 people can attend.
Tier 4 – Receptions should not take place.
“Everything that makes a wedding has been stopped so most people are just postponing,” said Samantha.
“Under the current guidelines we cannot operate or generate any revenue and the business will not survive much longer.
“We have the space and capacity to do events safely but with larger numbers than the current guidelines permit.
“The limit should be linked to the capacity of the venue.”
She said she had been pushing for political pressure on the UK Government to come up with a proper plan before it’s too late.
“A lot of caterers are already in administration, there’s a florist who had to give up her shop because she doesn’t have a business to keep it going and I know some people who have had to give up and take jobs in Tesco,” she said.
“Coronavirus has hit the industry really hard and had a huge affect on a lot of businesses.”
Florist Amy Annand’s business is largely focused on weddings.
She has had to give up her shop and move online but restrictions are still having a major impact.
“People are moving their weddings to next year or even 2022, which is making keeping the business going really hard,” she said.
“Without support from the Government many companies will not last until then.
“Form large event venues to their small independent suppliers, we are a multi-billion pound industry responsible for thousands of jobs but we have not been given the support we need to survive until the recovery.
“We need the Government to listen to our concerns and to support us.”
“I’ve spoken to many venues at various round tables because it’s important to listen and reflect on the road map.”
Paul Scully, UK Government under-secretary of state for business.
North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain said the wedding events industry generates £10 billion and employs 400,000 people across the UK.
“If the Government will not or cannot change the restrictions they need to provide further financial support to enable these businesses to survive through until March,” she said.
“North east Fife would be nothing without these businesses.
“We often hear that small, locally-owned businesses are the backbone of the local economy but in north east Fife, they are the face of the economy too.”
Paul Scully MP, the UK Government’s under-secretary of state for business, said he had received a number of representations from wedding venues and described the sector as ” hard-pressed”.
He said the roll-out of rapid coronavirus testing would help fix the problem almost overnight.
“I’ve spoken to many venues at various round tables because it’s important to listen and reflect on the road map,” he said.