First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced wedding businesses can apply for a share of £25million funding.
In December, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes – who today announced her own engagement – revealed £15million of support would be available for the industry, which has been badly hit by coronavirus restrictions forcing couples to postpone or cancel their big day.
At today’s daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon announced applications for support would open on Thursday – and that the funding pot has been increased to £25million.
The wedding fund open to all businesses who work in the industry, such as venues, caterers and photographers and grants of up to £25,000 will be available.
— Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance (@ScottishWeddin1) January 25, 2021
Ms Sturgeon said: “We know that businesses involved in weddings employ thousands of people across the country and of course they play a really big role in making sure that couples enjoy the wedding day of their dreams, so it’s really important that we support the sector now so that it is able to operate again once restrictions start to ease.
“So I hope this support will provide some welcome help and reassurance to a sector that has found things particularly tough.”
🎉💍Having launched the Wedding Fund today, I should declare an interest as a brave man asked me to marry him on a snowy local walk over the last few days and I said yes. No plans yet for a wedding – there’s plenty of Budget work to manage first. Some rare happy news! pic.twitter.com/kNWDVi00bk
— Kate Forbes MSP (@KateForbesMSP) January 25, 2021
Throughout the various stages of restrictions, the rules around weddings have changed – with some couples choosing to tie the knot in a scaled down day, perhaps with a garden ceremony, and others opting to postpone.
The guidelines state that at Level 4, no more than five people are allowed to mark the occasion while at Levels 1-3, there is a 20-person limit. At the lowest Level 0, no more than 50 are permitted.
Vaccination letters start dropping through doors
Ms Sturgeon told the briefing that 415,402 people have now received the first dose of a vaccine, and that the Scottish Government is on track to meet its target for vaccinating everyone over the age of 70 by the middle of February.
She said 95% of care home residents and 95% of health workers have now received their jab, and that 46% of all people over 80 have received theirs.
From today, people between 70-79 will receive letters with an appointment for their inoculation. However, we understand that these letters are being set out in phases to avoid overwhelming the Royal Mail.
Ms Sturgeon urged people to accept their appointment and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
She stressed that although people would have a “justified sense of relief” at receiving their jab, they should continue to follow the restrictions on social distancing.
It takes around two weeks for the vaccine to be effective in reducing the chance of getting ill from coronavirus, but scientists are still working to establish if it will stop people spreading it among those around them.
Falling case numbers bring hope lockdown is working
Ms Sturgeon said the safety way to protect others is to continue following the guidelines, and that there is “early evidence” lockdown is working.
There have been 752 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours, down from 1,195 on Sunday.
Four further deaths have been recorded, although the true number may be higher as registration offices are closed over the weekend.
Although lockdown measures will remain in place until at least the middle of February, the first minister said case numbers appear to be declining.
“We are seeing some early evidence that these restrictions are working, which is positive,” she said.
“We think they are starting to reduce case numbers and while it will take a bit of time yet to feed properly into admissions to hospital and ICU, we also hope that we might be starting to see some early positive signs too.”