Ontario couple struggling to tie the knot as province slowly reopens

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A year ago, Michelle Amri and her partner postponed their wedding amidst the first wave of the pandemic. Now, their delayed date is approaching on July 3, but the ambiguity of Ontario’s reopening has made planning the big day a challenge.

On June 11, Ontario will enter Step 1 of the province’s reopening plan, which significantly changes indoor and outdoor rules for weddings. As of Friday, indoor religious gatherings are allowed at 15 per cent capacity and there is no limit on the size of outdoor wedding services, as long as attendees can keep a two-metre distance.

The government’s roadmap to reopening states that Step 1 will last at least 21-days. Meaning, Amri’s wedding date could be on the heals of Step 2 of the reopening plan.

“It makes it difficult to plan. We’re one month prior to the wedding day and we still don’t know what we can and can’t do,” says Amri. “I completely understand it from the perspective of the government and making sure they are monitoring health outcomes...it’s more the issue around the discrepancies around the actual restrictions.”

As a PhD candidate studying public health at the University of Toronto, along with her partner who is a front-line health care worker, a safe wedding has been paramount for the couple.

At the moment, the plan is to get married at an outdoor venue with 10 immediate family members in attendance. Although, Amri has been told that a wedding reception and dinner, following the ceremony, is not permitted at the outdoor event space.

Meanwhile, outdoor dining will resume on June 11, with a maximum of four people, or an entire household, permitted at a table. Hypothetically, Amri’s wedding attendees could go to a restaurant after the reception, but an outdoor dinner at the wedding venue is not in the cards.

Or, if the wedding lands in phase two of the reopening plan, which could begin just days before her wedding, she would be allowed to have an indoor wedding with a 25 per cent capacity.

For Amri, her wedding is about prioritizing health, but she does hope that as vaccination rates ramp up, restrictions will evolve too. She points out that many of her family members who will be at the wedding will have one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“With first dose vaccination rates rising, I do think that we have to start thinking more longterm about what the guidelines say and what the restrictions will look like down the road,” she said.