Updated SA Government Gazette further impacts weddings during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The updated Government Gazette further impacts weddings during Coronavirus in South Africa and we explore how this will effect ALL weddings. In addition to this development, the Premier of Gauteng has additional criteria specifically for weddings in Gauteng.  We look into each of these into more detail in this article.

*Note from the Editor:  By no means is this article a comprehensively seamless analysis or by any means official information. It simply our understanding of the updates, intended to explore and include grounding information. The aim is to sober wedding indecision, during the presence of Coronavirus in South Africa. Information is accurate to the date of publishing, to our best knowledge. 

How has the updated SA Government Gazette further impact weddings during Coronavirus?

First Article: Dated 15th March 2020 somewhat gave engaged couples the opportunity to decide if their wedding was postponed or continuing as usual. Together with some small social adjustments of optimal hygiene and sanitisation being implemented.

Second Article: Dated 16th March 2020 on similar topics, was a translation of the progress after feedback from President Ramaphosa. President Ramapahosa defined guidelines and specific strategies to curb the infection rate of Coronavirus within South Africa. At this point, we observed that the decision of postponing or keeping the wedding as scheduled, was no longer in anyone’s hands. But this was now based on the number of wedding participants attending. He made it very clear of the ratios permitted at public gatherings, as well as travel restrictions or bans.

In summary, we then understood:

ONE. No public gatherings may have more than 100 people. In other words, public gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited. Understandable, this ban is to be in effect immediately and until the 14 April 2020 (once schools re-open after the Easter holidays). We understand that once schools re-open after the Easter Weekend that the hosting of weddings and events with more than 100 people will be permitted. Obviously under the Presidential direction at that time.

TWO. All non-essential international and local travel should be avoided. Travelers from high risk countries will not be allowed to enter South Africa.

And it’s since evolved – updated SA Government Gazette further impacts weddings during Coronavirus

President Ramaphosa

President Ramaphosa

Now we explore how this effects weddings in South Africa as a whole, and also for Gauteng individually:

Applicable to Gauteng: 

Premier David Makhura is presently serving as 6th Premier of Gauteng, and is also serving as a Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. In summary, Premier Makhura has called on everyone who wants to conduct weddings to inform their nearest police station.

On 18th March 2020, Premier Makhura in detail said: “We want to call on business to cooperate, including township establishments. Everyone who is applying for a funeral or for a wedding needs to do so at the nearest police station in your area. The police stations are helping us to monitor to ensure that the size of those events complies with the law. So, there’s a specific provincial police officer who is designated on behalf of the provincial commissioner coordinating all those applications so that there is full compliance.”

Premier David Makhura

Gauteng Premier David Makhura

Why Gauteng?

Recent statistics from our Department of Health have revealed that the majority of Coronavirus cases are currently situated in Gauteng. Gauteng has the highest number of cases, when compared to other provinces in South Africa. This is mostly likely due to Gauteng being the economic hub, having a denser population and a possibly more developed transport system.

Credit to: Department of Health and SABC News

Credit to: Department of Health and SABC News indicating Gauteng as highest cases when compared to provinces

And So… On 19 March 2020, we visited our local SAPS station for more information to better understand how this effected our wedding. We are assured that our understanding of these updated requirements on the Government Gazette are now enhanced. We share our experience: 

Applicable to Gauteng:

  1. Visit the South African Police Service (SAPS) Station nearest to your wedding venue (IN GAUTENG only) to inform the SAPS of your wedding. It’s a type of registration just to notify and inform the SAPS of your wedding. You do not need a permit or official license issued by the SAPS for your wedding, but the SAPS in Gauteng needs to be informed of your wedding logistics.
  2. Once reported to SAPS, the SAPS can then if they choose, send their representative to inspect your wedding at the specified venue, date and time.
  3. Venues and the bridal couple will be held liable. (Read more information below on how.)

For the remainder of weddings within South Africa, (including Gauteng), updated SA Government Gazette further impacts weddings during Coronavirus: 

  1. No wedding venue which is selling alcohol can be open after 18h00 during week days and on Saturdays, and to 13h00 on Sundays, including public holidays too. However, The Citizen  illuminates that:  “Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said the distribution and sale of alcohol on weekdays would end at 6pm, and at 1pm on weekends.”
  2. The Government Gazette also declares that an “assembly of more than 50 persons at premises where liquor is sold and consumed is prohibited.” Therefore if the wedding goes on with alcohol, there must be a total of no more than 50 participants, and the wedding must be finished before 18h00. This includes photographer, ushers, wedding coordinator, waiters and so on.  For example, if the venue has 15 staff, the actual wedding can have 35 participants in total, if the premises sells alcohol during this time.
  3. Venues and the bridal couple will be held liable.

What if the bridal couple or venue does not abide by the above-mentioned Government Gazette?

The Citizen summarises the Premier’s announcement, that “Law enforcement officers would shut down establishments, churches and any other areas that failed to adhere to the prohibition against gatherings of more than 100 people.”

The Government Gazette clearly informs under the line of ‘Prevention and Prohibition of gatherings, number 3’ which states.  “An enforcement officer must, where a gathering takes place (which we understand is not within the above-mentioned quota that): 1. Order the persons at the gathering to disperse immediately, and 2. If they refuse to, take appropriate action, which may, subject to the Criminal Procedure Act, include arrest and detention. (And) guilty of an offense and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

SAPS

SAPS

What if your contractors cannot meet your obligations (during the updated SA Government Gazette which further impacts weddings during Coronavirus)?

Taken directly from FIN24 (Michael Straeuli, Damian Wright & Dominic Harris are Dispute Resolution Specialists at Webber Wentzel). “If your contractors cannot meet your obligations and the potential impact on a party’s ability to perform in terms of a contract is far-reaching.  Uncontrollable variables arising from Covid-19, may prevent many parties from meeting their contractual obligations. Leaving many open to significant litigation risk in the future.  We highlight below some of the key issues related to contracts at this time. Focusing on force majeure clauses and the accompanying common law doctrine of supervening impossibility.

Credit to: FIN24

Credit to: FIN24

What is Force Majeure?

Whilst it is correct to associate force majeure to natural disasters, the concept covers a wide range of events including wars, insurrection, sabotage, and public riots.  Force majeure is a contractual concept.  These clauses exist to protect a party to a contract from an event beyond the control of that party. Which subsequently prevents the party from performing its obligations in terms of an agreement.

The safeguarding principle of force majeure is that a party who defaults on their obligations through no fault of their own should not be held liable for that default. A party that successfully invokes force majeure will be released from their contractual obligations, either temporarily or permanently, and will escape any liability that may arise in respect of the “default”.

Principle of freedom of contract enables parties to agree to have certain events specifically regarded (or not) as force majeure events under the contract.  Accordingly it is essential to consider the specific wording of the specific force majeure clause. To determine whether a qualifying event has occurred; and establish a link (referred to as “causation”) between the event in question and the actual or potential non-performance of the contract.

Force Majeure and Covid-19

The first step is to consider is the wording of the force majeure clause in the specific contract. In the case of Covid-19, the relevant clause may cover pandemics, but it may also cover, for example, government interference, national crises, or emergency measures.  A comprehensive force majeure clause may list a variety of events or circumstances, affording a party greater scope to invoke force majeure.

Second step is to establish the facts.  Force majeure is only available if the prescribed event has taken place and has caused (or is about to cause) the default in question. This is why it is critical to establish the chain of causation at the earliest opportunity.

Third, a party seeking to rely on a force majeure clause will most likely be required to give timeous notice to the other party of the actual or anticipated non-performance. In the manner specified in the contract.  Failing to provide proper notice in line with the terms of the clause, could have prejudicial results.

Finally, even if the event in question satisfies all the above requirements, a force majeure clause can list various exclusions – such as economic downturns. It’s important to be mindful of any exclusion that could result in the event not constituting force majeure in terms of the contract.

What if I don’t have a force majeure clause in my contract?

Where no force majeure clause exists in the contract, or the parties do not necessarily have a formal written contract. The common law would assist a party, in a similar fashion as a force majeure clause. This protection comes in the form of a legal concept known as supervening impossibility.  In this regard, the court has determined that if a party is prevented from performing his/her contract by irresistible force [vis major] or unforeseeable accident [casus fortuitous] it is discharged from liability.

Between them, vis major and casus fortuitous include any event that is unforeseeable with reasonable foresight, and unavoidable with reasonable care.  If successful, a party will be discharged from further performance, while the other party’s corresponding right to claim further performance is extinguished.

Force Majeure?

Force Majeure?

The end of the article from FIN24.

A lot to swallow?  Grab some coffee and continue reading…

Feedback from currently engaged couples who have their wedding scheduled:

“It is what it is. We started planning in 2017 for April 2020. Definitely we are so ready to marry, but must now wait a few weeks. Now postponed to 3 months later. Unfortunately, it is what is it.” Caroline and Gerhard.

“Blessed that we got first into our venue to rebook for two months’ time, they now booked up for some coming months. We feel blessed we can still marry soon.” Marietjie

“Devastated. Cried a lot. Understand it’s for greater good. Our wedding will come. I pray everyday Coronavirus will clear so we can move on with our lives.” Jessica

A few more:

“Our wedding guests have been really supportive. Those traveling (and also elderly) aren’t coming, so our guest list dropped from 185 to 79. We’re going ahead with our wedding – and obviously now are excluding alcohol at our venue – so we can have our 100 wedding participants and stay until after 6pm. My two Bridesmaids in Australia now can’t travel here, so I’ve promoted my two good guy friends in South Africa to be my Bridesmen.” Olivia and Adam

“It’ll be so much more special knowing we overcame Coronavirus and having our wedding day when we celebrate and seal our vows of love. For sure, we don’t want to change any of our wedding plans, so we have postponed our wedding because our guest numbers are well over 250.” Annette and Dan

“Absolutely! Wedding is going on. Our venue has been really kind and we implementing improved sanitisations and good hygiene. We can do it.” Sandra and Timothy.

Dancing Bride

What is happening in the rest of the world?

China’s feedback is the most positive today (19 March 2020), since during the outbreak:  The Current has informed on 19 March 2020 that China is celebrating the first day ever since the outbreak – where there is no report of Coronavirus.

Wedding venues are prohibited to have more than 100 people at a public gathering. So, how have wedding venues responded?

Most wedding venues have reacted to the President’s announcement through an intervention of mostly one of the following. In our first article we saw most wedding venues strictly abiding by the new strategies implemented by our Government.  As the days have evolved, we noticed an additional response from some wedding venues, which is not as positive as the first two responses:

ONE. Closed their doors to weddings and events for the duration of 18 March 2020 – 14 April 2020 as a response to the Coronavirus in South Africa.

A comment from Inimitable states:  “We feel morally and legally obliged to take the President’s guidelines seriously and to follow the State of Disaster Laws.” Venues that have temporarily closed their doors will look at their weddings and events to being postponed to a later date.

TWO. Other venues have opted to postpone scheduled weddings and events with MORE than 100 people between 18 March 2020 – 14 April 2020, also as a response to the Coronavirus in South Africa. So to say, these wedding venues will still go ahead with their weddings and events with less than 100 people at the public gathering. These venues have mostly however implemented extreme care with sanitisation and hygiene practice.

Comment from Oakfield Farm states:  “Numbers will be restricted to remain within the government requirements for the period 16/03/2020-14/04/2020.  Our hygiene measures and regulations always been of a high standard and we have implemented additional measures for our staff, valued clients and guests.”

THREE. Very few wedding venues said that a wedding is not a public gathering, so they consider themselves not responsible to abide to these capped guest numbers. Therefore, if the wedding numbers decreased, the engaged couple would still be held responsible to fulfill their contract minimum per head.

Aside from this, we understand from the Government Gazette number 43107 that: “Gathering means any assembly, concourse or procession of more than 100 persons, wholly or partially in open air or in a building or premises”.

However, most effective are the recent announcements from the updated Government Gazette which tackles this lack of responsibility really well.

What now?  The updated SA Government Gazette further impacts weddings during Coronavirus!

If you have not yet received communication from your wedding venue, enquire immediately and interact with your wedding venue. Make alternative arrangements and also explore how to proceed forwards, which works out best for them and you.

Small South African Wedding

If your scheduled wedding is LESS than 100 people, you could go ahead with your wedding if your venue permits:

Social adjustments will need to be made as this is now a legal requirement.  20 wedding tips for weddings going ahead as scheduled during this time: 
  • All public gatherings in South Africa are restricted to no more than 100 people IF there is no alcohol being sold at the premises. Therefore with 100 wedding participants, alcohol will be prohibited.
  • If your wedding is less than 100 people, remember to include your photographers, videographers, pastor, ushers, and waiters and so on. This will add to your current wedding number allowance of 100 people.
  • Encourage your guests to adopt a ‘hygienic hello’. Keep hugging, kissing, and handshaking to a minimum. Guests cannot kiss the bride or groom.  Keep social distancing in mind.
  • Elegantly place big bottles of hand sanitiser and sanitising wet wipes throughout.
  • Consider ways to keep your elderly grandparents slightly more at a social distance from other guests.

Breathe and carry on reading…

  • Switch buffet serving menu style to perhaps ala carte or set-plating menu. Even though ala carte menu could be a more costly alternative, it’s still an alternative to having your wedding proceed as mostly planned.
  • Ask your wedding suppliers a lot of questions. For example, if the wedding venue is a very busy church that sees to a few weddings in a day, then ask the church what their cleaning procedures looks like. Take care of your guests.
  • Coffee stations are a popular current wedding trend. However if someone coughs – yikes! Please avoid the coffee stations for now.
  • Opt for food and beverage services where all goodies are served. Prescribe easy health and hygiene practice in all your servings. Your guests should still be able to graze, and feel safe whilst doing it.
  • Please, no popular chocolate dipping fountains for now.

Grab a coffee (again) and then carry on reading….

  • Create slightly more distance between your guests seated at their tables. A round table usually seats ten guests, possibly set up now for eight guests per table.
  • Bartenders wear gloves.
  • There is no need to wear face masks at your wedding, just practice good hygiene.
  • All wedding helpers, providers and participants to wash their hands thoroughly for at least 30 seconds throughout.
  • Replace communal bowls of bar snacks with individual bags.
  • Substitute big sized bottles of juice or soda with individual bottles.
  • If your wedding is during warmer weather, consider planning it in the outdoors, in an open area. Set up tables and chairs a few feet from each other.
  • Ensure your wedding venue is ahead of the toilet paper stock piling rush!
  • Check in with your caterer and ask detailed questions on how your caterer has increased and improved their food hygiene practice during Coronavirus.

Take precautions to ensure the safety of you and your guests.

Coronavirus in South Africa

Travel:  All non-essential international and local travel should be avoided and travellers from high risk countries will not be allowed to enter South Africa: Updated SA Government Gazette further impacts weddings during Coronavirus

The President iterated that all non-essential international and local travel should be avoided. Travelers from high risk countries will not be allowed to enter South Africa.  Wedding guests come from abroad or do also travel nationally.  This announcement will certainly impact any of your guests intending to attend your wedding. Communicate with your guests and find out their personal agendas and arrangements.

Should most of your wedding guests be located locally, you may not have much cause for concern, if they are willing to drive, instead of fly.  If some of your wedding guests cannot attend, this could lead to potentially down-sizing some of your wedding supplier packages. This will help reduce some costs. However, if a larger portion of your guests cannot attend, perhaps consider a smaller wedding now on your scheduled wedding date and then throw the reception party celebration at a later time.

However, if your wedding does fall into the 100 and less bracket, then perhaps your guest number may decrease due to travel restrictions or travel bans. Decide on your unique plan of action forwards, together as a couple.

If your scheduled wedding is LESS than 50 people, you could go ahead with your wedding if your venue permits:

Social adjustments will need to be made as this is now a legal requirement, in addition to the above mentioned list, the following:

All public gatherings in South Africa are restricted to no more than 50 people, IF there is alcohol being sold at the premises. In other words, if you insist on serving alcohol at your wedding, then you are to have no more than 50 total participants at your wedding. Again, this includes photographer, videographer, waiters, ushers, event coordinators and so on.

Because no great story ever began with a salad...

Because no great story ever began with a salad…

However…

If your already scheduled wedding is MORE than 100 people, and between 18 March 2020 –  14 April 2020, then you are legally obligated and very unfortunately have to postpone your wedding:

This is not an easy motion and in the very least a very emotional affair.  Here are some wedding tips to postpone your wedding:

  • Educate yourself on the vendor contracts and how they are written. Most venues will include clauses about weather or government issues, however not many have considered a pandemic, which is different.  Educate yourself on all your supplier contracts and rescheduling clauses. Make a list of questions for all your wedding suppliers for plans to make your wedding date adjustment work well. Most wedding venues will act with high integrity during something like a Pandemic which cannot be controlled by either venue or bride/groom and simply roll over your wedding date and deposit accordingly.
  • If you’ve bought wedding insurance then read the policy terms, conditions and information to understand what is covered and what is not covered. It’s unclear whether wedding insurance companies will cover any event costs if cancelled due to a pandemic.  For more information, consult a lawyer who can negotiate on your behalf with your wedding suppliers.  Lawyers often can better digest the small print.
  • Simply put, with enough planning to reschedule your wedding, venues and suppliers can simply transfer deposits paid and new balances to the postponed wedding date. However this is a very personal consideration from each unique wedding venue. Learn where you stand with your venue and suppliers.

A few more tips to get started on….

  • Create a loose backup plan with your suppliers and venue. Ensure of a 30 day trigger date to bring your wedding date forwards, should things clear up fast.
  • Connect with your vendors and suppliers as soon as possible to address all areas of your wedding plans. Many venues are already booked in a year in advance, so postponing your wedding date may likely mean postponing to 2021 or 2022.   Ask your venue and suppliers a lot of questions! Ask your suppliers what their policy looks like in this instance. Do this soonest so you’re not waiting until 2023 to have your wedding, if spots fill up fast!
  • Most importantly, communicate your wedding status updates to your guests.

For your ease of convenience, here is a drafted letter to your wedding guests should you have no option but to postpone your wedding:

“Dear Family and Friends, Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we unfortunately have no option but to postpone our wedding to the nearby future. President Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the 15th March 2020 and announced that any public gatherings over 100 people is prohibited. Our wedding is therefore impacted by this legal requirement and we are obliged to action it accordingly with our wedding venue.  It is with a heavy heart that we write to inform you of the impact upon our wedding in South Africa amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

Your health and well-being is of utmost importance to us.  We wanted to let you know soonest, so that you have time to adjust your travel plans accordingly. For sure, we will keep you updated soon with our new wedding date. Having no doubt that when we all come together to celebrate our union of love that we are all going to have the best wedding party festivities and celebration of all times! Yours in Love.”

Wedding consisting of 20 Bridesmaids

Wedding consisting of 20 Bridesmaids

Now to you who are engaged. Congratulations! 

Your wedding in South Africa during the Coronavirus may be impacted.  Seriously consider these few summarised points. In this article, we have only listed the heading here.  For more detail on each, please refer to the previous article

1:  Wedding Guest Numbers

2:  Book your ideal wedding venue tentatively NOW!

3:  Local is Lekker

4: Use Technology

5:  Stock from South Africa’s largest online wedding shop is limited, so order now

5: Honeymoon!

6:  My Wedding Dress!

Congratulations on your engagement!

Congratulations on your engagement!

Keep sane Brides and Grooms with these Wedding Tips to KEEP WEDDING MOTIVATED:

  • Keep wedding motivated: Shop online at the Wedding Shop to get everything you need. THERE WILL BE A WEDDING DÉCOR/SIGNBOARD SALE next few days too!
  • This Coronavirus will pass. Your wedding will happen.
  • Try on your wedding dress
  • Exercise! This increases endorphins and you’ll look even hotter in your wedding dress
  • Dig through your keepsake wedding treasures purchased so far
  • Have a hot soaking bath and rest those tense muscles
  • Browse Pintrest for wedding ideas
  • Send your photographer a list of poses you’d like to incorporate at your wedding
  • Join wedding forums like our bridal networking Whatsapp group to get other bride and groom’s support in exactly the same situation as you. You need to be a BRIDE OR GROOM to enter the group.  WhatsApp 0625499753 to request. Seats are limited so if the group is full, you’ll go onto the waiting list to be added.

And here’s a few more ideas to keep wedding inspired:

  • Chat to previous Brides to gain insight into what that’d have changed
  • Keep wedding inspired!
  • Do something special for your Fiancé during this trying time
  • Cry, cry hard, then straighten your crown and move forwards
  • Make a list of reasons why you want to marry your partner and list why you want to make this lifetime commitment
  • Share this list with him or her
  • Stay closely connected to your venue and keep communication open
  • Follow this up with all your wedding suppliers
  • Keep informed on official sites and articles like this to keep you updated
  • For the Greater Good
  • Life will resume normally at some stage, in only a matter of time.
Try on your wedding dress!

Try on your wedding dress!

Stay updated – Updated SA Government Gazette further impacts weddings during Coronavirus

Your dedicated informative wedding team  are working to stay updated. Keep an eye on this article, as we will be updating it as we learn more.

We recommend checking these official resources

  • South Africa’s emergency hotline 0800 029 999
  • WhatsApp support line 0600 123456 and type hi
  • Go to sacoronavirus.co.za

A final note

In summary, stay safe. Moreover, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and practice social distancing – until otherwise instructed. Be updated on the current status of things and take care.  Even during uncertainty, we are certain that LOVE remains definite.  You will get married, you will have the wedding of your dreams. This is for CERTAIN! It is extremely unfortunate that the next few weeks will be largely impacted by preventing the spread of the Coronavirus within South Africa, and also globally. We must all stand united for our Greater Good.

Concluding, with this updated SA Government Gazette further impacts weddings during Coronavirus, we see in this most recent article the additional steps implemented. Namely, opening and closing times, in particular when alcohol is being sold. In Gauteng in particular, the need now to inform the SAPS of wedding logistics prior. Understandable there are implications if these requirements are not adhered to, if visited by a representative from the SAPS. Furthermore, insight from FIN24 sheds valuable awareness if contractors cannot meet obligations.

The impact of the government’s decisions taken to lower the curve of the Coronavirus does not lessen your love for one another, or your foreseeable wedding and marriage union. Your time to have your wedding will definitely STILL come. Have faith.

Remember that South Africa’s Largest Online Wedding Shop is business as usual, with deliveries to your door within 1-3 days in South Africa.  Stay wedding MOTIVATED and enjoy shopping for Everything You Need for Before, During, After Your Wedding.

Remember, “Love Never Fails” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

Read our previous article  looking at how the Coronavirus and the impact of it upon weddings in South Africa – after President Ramaphosa addresses our nation.

Your Wedding Celebration is Coming Soon...

Your Wedding Celebration is Coming Soon…