May 15, 2020 / 7:36 PM / 19 days ago

Couple rushes to send last minute wedding invites as Ivory Coast eases lockdown

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - After Ivory Coast’s government announced the easing of some restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus on Thursday evening, Ange-Désire Indat hit the phones and invited more guests to his wedding planned for the next day.

Indat Ange Desire, 30, and Marie Andrea Offoumou, 28, attend their wedding ceremony with guests, following the easing of restrictive measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abidjan, Ivory Coast May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

“This is a joy for us because the easing of the restrictive measures changed everything. Our parents are here. We had to call everyone yesterday,” said the groom, a 30-year old finance officer, beaming in a midnight blue tuxedo.

Ivory Coast, which has reported nearly 2,000 coronavirus cases and 24 deaths, eased some of the strict measures it had put in place since early March, such as raising the maximum number of people allowed at a gathering to 200, from 50.

Many enclosed spaces imposed their own restrictions. The Cocody town hall in Abidjan had limited gatherings to just four people since March.

But then Indat and his 28-year-old bride, Marie-Andrea Offoumou, got the word that those restrictions had been lifted.

At the town hall on Friday, Offoumou said ‘oui’ to marrying 30-year Indat, who removed his face mask before saying his vows in a room where guests were sitting more than a metre apart from each other, following social distancing measures.

There were around 40 people for the couple’s big day and Offoumou said she was disappointed they could not invite more.

But it could have been a lot fewer, if not for the eleventh hour ring round to friends and family.

Cocody mayor Jean Marc Yace said that before the pandemic the town would hold an average of 45 weddings a week, which had fallen to around a dozen since the coronavirus restrictions were put in place.

“I think weddings will start taking off again and more people will come,” said Yace. “You know, weddings are important, you only do it once in your life so you want to have the minimum of people that you love around you.”

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Bate Felix and Yvonne Bell; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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