Tony Procter’s son and wife, Charlie and Trudie, are also involved in the wedding location The Old Rectory Estate. Image: Grahame Larter.

While many East Surrey businesses were counting the cost of yesterday’s lockdown announcement, wedding venues were preparing for their biggest events since the pandemic began.

Boris Johnson confirmed that weddings could take place on Monday night with an unlimited number of guests, although social distancing measures limit the number of guests indoors, with no dancing or singing under guidance being allowed unless in a private garden.

However, for Tony Procter, owner of the Old Rectory Estate in Bletchingley, the news has been welcomed as his weddings take place in marquees, referred to as one of those outdoor spaces.

This means that there are no limits to the number of participants.

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“This is good news for marquee and garden events, not so good news for indoor events,” said Mr Procter.

“I ask all guests to do a Covid test beforehand, and that’s it. We’ll have to live with the disease, it won’t go away, so we might as well continue with it.”

“It’s very welcome. The whole hospitality industry is more or less ruined, if you were just a commercial place in a hall you would have it,” he added.

While many venues must regulate what their guests do, Mr. Procter says the guidelines allow his outdoor venue to be away from guests, which includes dancing.

“You can dance provided it’s an outdoor venue. It’s impossible to break all social contacts, you have to open up at some point, so I think it’s the right decision,” he said.

“If you don’t open up now, there will be no one left to marry, then we have another challenge. More and more people are being vaccinated, we have to keep going.

“We’re going to follow the guidelines. I can’t stop them from having all the social contacts and neither would I, we have to move forward with things now. That’s the right step,” he added.

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