By Joan Salmon
With the onset of Covid-19 came the announcement of a lock-down to ensure the country was minimally affected by the pandemic. As such, President Museveni, in his speech, put a ban to mass public gatherings. Among these were weddings which the President said are always big, bringing together people from various places therefore potentially a source of danger.
For those that desired to go on with their weddings, he advised they go for what he called a “scientific wedding” where only the core persons would attend. In his view, these are the bride, groom, best man, matron, the religious leader (or the CAO), parents and witnesses.
During the first days of the lock-down, several couples followed the standards of procedure (SoP) so well, such as having no more than 10 people, having sanitisers or hand washing points, and social distancing. However, lately, people seem to have become lax.
Dorothy Ntongo Mugume, an events manager, shares that over time, we have evolved from “scientific” to small weddings. “It is also very clear that at functions, social distancing protocols are not observed. It would appear that people are increasingly relaxed in relation to the SOPs put in place inasmuch as you will still see a few who endeavour to at least put on a mask at a function.”
Mugume shares that lately, weddings have between 200 and 350 guests. However, with news hitting the scenes that the infections are increasing, there is need to get back to the basics.
As an events organiser, Mugume says the onus is on her to ensure that she tries to enforce adherence to the SOPs to an extent, especially in the area of sensitising and reminding her clients to adhere as well.
If you are planning a wedding soon or are part of the organising team here are some things you need to remember in order to keep the bride and groom, and guests safe.
Masks: We are aware that wearing a mask will help in reducing the spread or catching of the virus. Therefore, keeping it on, all the time save for when eating or making a speech is very important during public gatherings. That also means ensuring that your guests carry them as they come for the wedding. Security at the entrance should ensure no one accesses the venue without a mask on.
Sanitisers: Apart from people carrying their own sanitiser bottles, it is important that, at the event, there is sanitiser for people to use. These can be put at the entrance and in other spots within the reception area. In case that is not possible, have washing points complete with soap as an alternative because medical personnel have advised that soap kills the virus. That way, spread of the virus through touching contaminated surfaces will be reduced.
Social distancing: The suggested distance between people ought to be two metres. However, that has been forgotten hence crowded tables at weddings yet close proximity means easy spread of the virus in case there is a sick person among those in attendance. Therefore, to avoid spread of the corona virus, this distance must be maintained. Depending on the size of the table, ensure that there are few people per table. For a table that would ordinarily seat 10 people, have five instead and ensure the chairs are spaced out.
Numbers: Social distancing is only possible if the numbers are controlled. That is why the President suggested 10 people attend the ceremony. If you must have more than these at the reception, then getting a bigger venue must be at the back of your mind. As much as possible, limit the numbers coming to the wedding ceremony where the vows will take place whether that is in church, the mosque or during civil registration. 10 should really be enough.
Proper air circulation: It is known that some venues are indoor while others are outdoor. For indoor venues, air conditioners should not be used at all as they recycle air. Therefore, doors and windows should be open to allow for the free flow of air. However, if you can get an outdoor venue, the better.
Reminders: These come in handy throughout the wedding and which better people to do that than MCs? They should not only tell people what is going to happen next but also remind them to wear their masks, use sanitisers or wash their hands regularly, and keep a distance. Saying it plainly may make some people feel like they are being ordered around, so the MCs can find using clever and amusing ways to drive the message home.
Well aware that prevention is better than cure, adhering to these SoPs as they were laid out before lockdown will save lives, money, time as well as another lockdown whose effects we are still recovering from.