News State NSW News Sydney News Wedding venues to defy virus restrictions because ‘we don’t want to deal with upset clients’

Wedding venues to defy virus restrictions because ‘we don’t want to deal with upset clients’

wedding venue social distancing
The venues' owner, Sal Navarra, says he made the decision partly after seeing thousands at the weekend's Black Lives Matter protests. Photo: Facebook/Navarra Venues
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The man behind several popular Sydney wedding venues says he will defy the NSW government’s coronavirus lockdown and “reopen to any numbers” in July.

Sal Navarra, the chief executive of Navarra Venues, took to Instagram to announce he was “taking a stance”.

Navarra Venues runs Le Montage in Sydney’s inner-west, and Curzon Hall and Oatlands House in the north-west, among others.

“We don’t want to deal with upset brides anymore, upset clients anymore because it’s not fair on them,” he said in a video posted on Monday night.

“We are reopening and we are reopening to any numbers.”

Mr Navarra said the company would make sure hand sanitiser was available at weddings, and explore other “social-distancing ideas”.

The post linked to the video read: “Navarra Venues took a stance to to keep our clients safe by upholding the NSW government restrictions, now we are taking a stance to open.”

Since June 1, restaurants, cafes and clubs across NSW have been allowed 50 customers inside, while weddings have been restricted to 20 guests.

The 20-person limit excludes the couple getting married, the celebrant, a photographer and a videographer.

At the end of March, a wedding on the NSW South Coast resulted in 35 cases of coronavirus among attendees.

Mr Navarra claimed he saw restaurants open with more than 50 customers inside at the weekend.

“The restaurants were doing more than they were supposed to which I don’t blame them because they’ve been closed for three and a half months,” he said.

He said the large crowd at the Black Lives Matter protests in Sydney at the weekend cemented his decision.

“Hopefully in the next 10 days when we don’t have a spike in the coronavirus and my prediction is correct … will make us open on the first or the seventh or the 15th of July,” Mr Navarra said in the video.

On Tuesday morning, the post was flooded with angry comments from people objecting to Mr Navarra linking the protests with weddings.

“Comparing weddings and businesses to people fighting for black lives and against police brutality is completely out of line and tone deaf,” one person said.

Another asked Mr Navarra about whether he had considered that authorities could hand out fines for attendees and shut down venues.