State to loosen wedding restrictions beginning March 15

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that COVID-19 restrictions on weddings in New York State will soon be loosened to allow for up to 150 people to attend.

The governor said there will be mandatory testing of all attendees and health department approvals and monitoring will be required in order for the events to be held.

“The promise of marital bliss is returning,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The new regulations, which limit capacity at 50% for smaller venues, go into effect March 15.

The governor said the the state used the NFL playoff games hosted Jan. 9 and Jan. 16 in Buffalo as a first step to expanding public events. All 7,000 spectators were tested for COVID-19 upon entrance to the stadium and those results were monitored by the health department, which determined no outbreaks occurred as a result of the game, Mr. Cuomo said.

Weddings will be the next step, while the state continues to develop guidance for other events. He said it remains to be seen when spectators will be allowed in baseball stadiums and performing arts venues.

The governor said he believes the public needs to feel confident they will be safe before attending an event.

“In New York we want to use [rapid] testing as the key to reopen events,” he said.

Nuptials have largely been put on hold in New York for the past year, though many couples have opted for ceremonies with few in attendance or small receptions to comply with state regulations. At least one local wedding venue, North Fork Country Club, was fined for violating those restrictions.

Weddings are a $72 billion dollar industry in the U.S., with couples on average spending about $32,000 on a single event. On the North Fork, many caterers, venues and florists rely on April through October to bring in the vast majority of their income for the year.