Bindi Irwin gets married at Australia Zoo with no guests amid virus outbreak

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(CBS News) — Bindi Irwin and Chandler Powell tied the knot Wednesday in a private ceremony with no guests. The couple married at the Australia Zoo just hours before stricter nationwide guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus went into effect.

On Instagram, Irwin, 21, confirmed there were no guests present at the wedding. She called the decision “very difficult but important” amid social distancing warnings as coronavirus diagnoses ramp up in Australia.

“There are no words to describe the amount of love and light in my heart right now,” Irwin said Wednesday. “We planned this beautiful day for nearly a year and had to change everything, as we didn’t have guests at our wedding.”

Since Irwin’s family lives together at the zoo, she said her mother, Terri, was present to help her get ready and her younger brother Robert walked her down the aisle. “We lit a candle in Dad’s memory,” she said.

“Right now we’re encouraging the world to hold onto hope and love, which will carry us forward during this profound time in history,” Irwin concluded. “To everyone reading this — stay safe, social distance and remember LOVE WINS!”

“Bindi and Chandler, words cannot describe how happy and proud I am that today you started your married life and celebrated love during a difficult time for our world,” Robert Irwin wrote on Instagram. “Even though all of your wedding plans had to change at the last minute to keep everyone safe and healthy, it truly was an emotional and beautifully spontaneous day… I know that Dad was with us, and we are all so delighted for your future as husband and wife.”

“Here’s to love during a challenging time in the world’s history,” the zoo wrote on Instagram.

On Tuesday, the government in Australia announced stricter social distancing guidelines that went into effect at 11:59 p.m. local time Wednesday. Included in the new rules are weddings, which can now have a maximum attendance of no more than five people. 

“Now, weddings can continue to be conducted where it is just the couple, the celebrant and the witnesses,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a press conference. “That’s no more than five people. And the four square meter rule has to be observed within the venue in which that’s taking place. But large gatherings for weddings, sadly, won’t be possible under these new arrangements.” 

According to Johns Hopkins University, Australia currently has 2,364 cases of COVID-19 and eight people have died. The country recently came under fire for allowing thousands of people to gather at popular beaches despite warnings from health officials. 

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