‘Our industry is getting hammered’: Raimondo’s social gathering rules worry wedding businesses

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Gov. Gina Raimondo’s decision to keep Rhode Island in Phase 3 of her reopening plan until an effective vaccine is available is leaving those working in the wedding industry uncertain of their futures.

Luke Renchan, president of the Rhode Island Wedding Group, tells 12 News that while event planners have been able to successfully schedule weddings and ceremonies under the state’s guidelines, many clients are choosing to postpone or cancel due to the guest restrictions.

“It’s one blow after another,” he said.

The state’s guidelines for catered social gatherings limit indoor weddings to 25 guests and outdoor events to 100 guests.

Renchan suggests the state health officials to alter the guidelines in a way that would allow venues, depending on their size, to host more than 100 guests.

He noted that Massachusetts is using its community risk-level map to determine which cities are “hot spots” for the coronavirus, and that both indoor and outdoor performance venues in those deemed lower risk are allowed to host events at 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people.

“I propose to see if we can make that happen here [for weddings] because at least it’s a step to try and do something,” Renchan said. “Our industry is getting hammered.”

Businesses that primarily rely on weddings to survive, such as Blackstone Caterers, are hoping the state will implement something similar so they can stay afloat.

“We are confident that we can have dance floors and have them still be safe,” Blackstone Caterers’ Karen Tungent said. “When you tell a client that you can’t have a dance floor, it’s really discouraging to them. So that would be one of my bigger requests, to be able to allow it.”

12 News reached out to Raimondo’s office on whether these changes are being considered. A spokesperson said, “As we have throughout this crisis, we will follow public health data and science and will take a targeted approach to easing certain restrictions whenever safely possible.”

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