Coronavirus: New York couples can now tie the knot over Zoom
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed an order allowing online marriages, as many weddings are cancelled under lockdown restrictions.
From now on, people in the US state will be able to apply for marriage licences remotely and clerks allowed to conduct ceremonies virtually.
Mr Cuomo joked that the decision meant there was now “no excuse” for couples not to tie the knot.
“You can do it by Zoom. Yes or no?” he said in his briefing on Saturday.
The decision comes after New York state extended lockdown measures until 15 May. More than 13,000 people have died of coronavirus in New York city alone.
Social media reaction to the decision was mixed.
Some questioned why couples would choose to hold weddings when their families and friends are unable to join them, or criticised the governor for not prioritising other decisions.
But others pointed out that during a pandemic, marriage could offer practical benefits, such as allowing couples to share health insurance coverage.
How have engaged couples coped with lockdowns?
Some people have already turned to online celebrations to mark what would have been their special day.
But unless the weddings have been arranged in advance – and both their venues and officiants are still available despite lockdown – many of these ceremonies are not legally binding.
New York isn’t the first place to turn to the internet to offer a legal solution.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently announced that citizens and residents would be allowed to get married online, after the justice ministry created a website for couples to submit required documents. A virtual ceremony, complete with a registrar and witnesses, can then take place.
Similar measures have been introduced in the US state of Colorado, where couples are being allowed to apply for marriage licences online.
Meanwhile, one county in Ohio is allowing people to obtain marriage licences online in specific circumstances, such as when one of the partners is a health care worker, suffers from a serious illness or has health insurance issues.