Coronavirus: NIO distances itself from venue over dancing video

Montalto Estate in BallynahinchImage copyright

Image caption

Attendees were seen dancing in a video taken at a wedding held at Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has distanced itself from a venue promoted for maintaining Covid-19 safety standards after a video emerged of people dancing at a wedding.

The video was taken during a wedding at the Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch, County Down, The Nolan Show reported.

Covid-19 guidelines say there should be no communal dancing at weddings.

The NIO had promoted the Montalto Estate as part of its ‘Enjoy Summer Safely’ campaign.

On 24 August, the NIO tweeted an interview with the estate’s manager, in which he described measures that the venue had undertaken to reopen safely.

That post has now been deleted.

The NI Executive has made it clear that indoor marriages carry a serious risk with regard to Covid-19.

It said for public safety there should be no communal dancing at the event.

All elements of the ceremony and reception should be on a table-seated basis, it said.

The Nolan Show on Thursday highlighted the video showing dancing at the Carriage Rooms in the Montalto Estate.

The NIO told the Nolan Show that the ‘Enjoy Summer Safely’ campaign highlights “businesses who promote best practice, adhering to government (Covid-19) guidelines”.

‘Lessons will be learnt’

It added that “unfortunately it appears there has been a clear breach of these guidelines by the Montalto Estate over recent days”.

“This is disappointing and that is why we have removed this post from our social media accounts,” it says.

“Businesses must put the safety of staff and customers at the forefront of their practices.”

In a statement, Montalto Estate said it is “fully committed to ensuring that the measures are met at our venue”.

“As we work hard to implement our processes, in these very early days of our reopening, we are aware that there are occasions where lessons will be learnt.

“Any concerns brought to our attention have been fully reviewed and responded to as swiftly as possible to ensure the guidance is met.

“We have met with relevant stakeholders to review and discuss any areas that require additional focus.

“This includes social distancing measures, specific signage, sanitising stations, rigorous cleaning regimes, an app for table service and contact tracing.”

Legislation call

Colin Neill, of Hospitality Ulster, told the Nolan Show he believed executive guidance on the issue should now be replaced with legislation.

“We are on the record for months and months calling for guidance to be replaced with legislation.

“Because if we do not have legislation, it is not enforceable, things like that happen.”

Under the executive’s guidance, the number of people allowed to attend a wedding is a matter of discussion between the venue and the wedding party – although social distancing must be adhered to.

BBC News