As COVID-19 lockdown measures continue to ease nationally, Calderdale Council is updating local people on its plans for the safe, phased reopening of its Registration Service.
This includes arrangements for weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and registering births and deaths.
The Council’s priority to keep people safe remains the focus of its reopening plans, as the coronavirus will be present for the foreseeable future.
Throughout lockdown, Calderdale Register Office in Halifax has been closed to the public for safety reasons. Staff adapted quickly and resiliently to provide services over the phone and online, focusing on supporting bereaved families.
At the same time, the team has been working hard to introduce new safety measures to enable the Register Office to reopen. The building will now open to the public by appointment only from Monday 6 July 2020, but social distancing rules mean that things will be different from what people were previously used to.
Cllr Susan Press, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, said:
“We look forward to welcoming people back to our Register Office, but this will be on a limited basis with the safety of our staff and residents in mind, as we must continue to protect our communities.
“Our Registration Service supports local people through some of the most significant moments in their lives. The pandemic saw our staff rapidly changing ways of working that had been in place for many years. They rose to the challenge and have done an exceptional job of keeping the service going throughout lockdown, with their usual care and professionalism.”
A two-part process for registering births will limit the amount of face-to-face contact at the Register Office, and the number of people in the building at any time will be strictly controlled. Families will first complete an online form on the Council’s website. The Registration Service will then contact the family to book a face-to-face appointment. Please bear with the team at this especially busy time, as they are working hard to register the 1,400 births which couldn’t be registered during lockdown.
Supporting bereaved families remains a priority. To protect customers and staff, the Council will continue to register deaths over the phone only, while the Government’s special measures are still in place.
For marriage and civil partnership notices, a limited number of appointments are available for people who have a confirmed ceremony due to take place in the next two months. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book. Appointments are not currently available for notices for ceremonies that are yet to be arranged.
The Government announced that marriage and civil partnership ceremonies can restart from Saturday 4 July. Social distancing will still be required, meaning a limited number of guests can be present. For ceremonies at Calderdale Register Office, this will just be the couple and two witnesses. For the Spring Hall Ceremony Suite it will be the couple and a maximum of eight guests (including babies, children and photographers). For ceremonies at any of the Council’s other approved venues, a maximum of 30 people can be present (including the two registrars, venue staff, babies, children and photographers), although the number of guests allowed to attend will depend on the space available.
If couples have a ceremony planned but they want to postpone it, the Council will transfer the booking to another date, subject to the venue being available. New bookings for dates in 2020 are not being taken at the moment, until all the ceremonies that had to be postponed during lockdown have been rescheduled. Dates in 2021 can be booked up to 12 months in advance.
Keep an eye on www.calderdale.gov.uk/coronavirus for service updates.
As well as social distancing, you can reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by washing your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face and follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ guidance.
We urge anyone using our face-to-face services to look out for each other, and to stay at home if they or someone they have been in contact with has COVID-19 symptoms.