THE government has relaxed restrictions on weddings and funerals, allowing a maximum of 40 people at graveside services and marriage ceremonies in churches on islands where this was prohibited.
The new measures were outlined in an amendment to the Emergency Powers Order issued yesterday.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said a graveside service or internment may now be held with a maximum of 40 people, not including the officiant and mortuary workers, on all islands of The Bahamas.
On the islands of New Providence, and mainland Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera, a wedding may now be held in a religious facility, provided that the number of attendees is limited to one third of the capacity of the facility. Physical distancing, mask wearing and sanitisation protocols, and other guidelines issued by the Bahamas Christian Council and approved by the Ministry of Health must also be followed.
All other provisions related to funerals and weddings remain the same, the Office of the Prime Minister said.
The announcement came after wedding industry stakeholders and a local religious leader complained about continued restrictions.
Earlier this week, Bahamas Christian Council President Delton Fernander criticised large political groups who have been campaigning in constituencies while some COVID restrictions remain on churches.
He pointed to funerals that up until last night were only allowed at the graveside with a maximum of 20 people, not including the officiant or mortuary workers.
He also said Lent, the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar, has been traditionally respected as a time when no campaigning takes place.
Over the weekend the Free National Movement was seen with a large group in the Centreville constituency.
Yesterday, The Tribune reported that organisers of the annual Bahamas Bridal Show were upset that COVID-19 restrictions on the wedding industry had not yet been relaxed. Before the latest amendment, weddings were limited to only 20 people, excluding an officiant.
In a statement, they said the wedding industry is currently operating at about 10 percent, lamenting it will take “at least three years” for businesses in the sector to recover.
At the time, the organisers of the bridal show said they had received no response from Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis about their situation.