WEDDING venues owner David Irlam is willing to act as a ‘guinea pig’ to show the Government that weddings and receptions are safe to reopen.

Mr Irlam owns King Street Kitchen restaurant in Knutsford and wedding venues Merrydale Manor and Colshaw Hall, and was referred to by Tatton MP Esther McVey as she called on the Government to allow the events industry to reopen.

Ms McVey said pre-lockdown rules placed on venues by Government were arbitrary and not backed up by science.

Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on support for live events and weddings, she said Mr Irlam was willing to be a ‘guinea pig’ for the Government to show venues were safe and a host of measures could be put in place.

Ms McVey said: “David Irlam said, and I quote, ‘I would happily be a guinea pig for the minister. I would do a wedding business venue that is Covid-compliant, I will do track and trace, I will make sure people are served at the table, I will make sure we do absolutely everything that is Covid-compliant.’”

Ms McVey said business owners were desperate to reopen and criticised the ‘bizarre’ rules which meant Mr Irlam could host 60 people from 30 families at his restaurant, but was only to have 15 people at his wedding venues despite them being larger and with outdoor space.

She said: “I speak as someone who got married in September and experienced the nightmare of having to change plans and guests up to the last minute.

“There were only two things that did not change, the date and the bridegroom, so I have some understanding of how the wedding industry has suffered this year.

“It does not have to be like that; with some thought, some coherency and a road map to allow weddings to take place, Covid-compliant, this sector could re-emerge and allow weddings to take place.”

Ms McVey said Tatton and Cheshire had a thriving wedding sector, but ceremonies had fallen from 4,500 last year to about 800 this year, and those taking place had dramatically reduced numbers.

“When I speak to constituents who have wedding businesses, they say on average they use about 25 preferred local suppliers; all of those now do not have the income from those weddings,” she said.

“Jacqui Mooney from The Oak Tree of Peover said she has had to postpone 90 weddings and cancel 30, and her income is less than one sixth of what it was.

“They have helped brides and bridegrooms and postponed wedding once, sometimes twice; it is a logistical nightmare. These are her words, ‘I dread things now especially if the wedding sector can’t find a way to open back up. I cannot sleep of a night worrying.’

Ms McVey called for Government minister Paul Scully to hold a Zoom meeting with wedding venue owners in the constituency so they could set out how reopening could work.