Larger Groups Allowed at Weddings, CNY Executive Confirms
Finally, some good news has come for brides and grooms amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon confirmed weddings in the county can have groups of more than 50 people, in accordance with the recent ruling from a federal judge.
"For those who are looking to get married and have a reception, this is good news,” McMahon said during his briefing on Monday, according to Syracuse.com.
Judge Glenn Suddaby released a ruling on Friday in favor of two Western New York couples who said Governor Cuomo's large gathering limit of 50 people at all events, including weddings, violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Syracuse.com reports the lawsuit states Cuomo's limit "[forbids] them to preside or participate in religious weddings according to the dictates of their conscious and religious beliefs."
Under Judge Suddaby's ruling, weddings will now be able to operate under 50 percent of the venue's capacity, just as restaurants and bars have been since they reopened earlier this summer.
Lucas James is the owner of Arrowhead Golf Club in Akron, New York where both couples planned on holding their weddings. He initiated the lawsuit and told Syracuse.com the gathering limit has not only been devastating to couples wishing to be surrounded by friends and family members on their big day, but also to the venues and local businesses that help the wedding come together.
"The wedding venue industry has been decimated by Cuomo’s policies on this and it’s very damaging to local businesses," James told Syracuse.com. "Hundreds of employees at these venues have been laid off and their families are struggling. It’s been a disaster."
Cuomo's office called Suddaby's ruling "irresponsible," saying "it would allow for large, non-essential gatherings that endanger public health."
“We will pursue all available legal remedies immediately and continue defending the policies that have led New York to having - and maintaining - one of the lowest infection rates in the country, while cases continue to rise in dozens of other states," Caitlin Girouard, Cuomo’s press secretary, said, according to Syracuse.com.
But for now, McMahon said Onondaga County will operate under the federal ruling, allowing weddings to operate at 50 percent of the venue's capacity.
"Our interpretation is weddings are now allowed at 50 percent capacity," McMahon said, according to Syracuse.com. "If there’s an appeal and that changes, we’ll let you know."
McMahon also clarified that while weddings may have more than 50 people, attendees should still take precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. He said guests are still required to wear masks when not seated, dancing is not allowed, and he recommends all guests get tested for COVID-19 before attending the wedding, especially if they are traveling from outside of New York.