A couple whose wedding guests were hit by a gastro outbreak have shared their side of the story for the first time.
Rebecca and Brodey Fitz-Gerald were warned ahead of their wedding reception at The Park in inner-city Melbourne on September 16 that the venue had been linked to a gastro outbreak.
“We got a call from the venue three days before the wedding and they just explained we would be seeing it on the news, not to worry about it,” they told A Current Affair on Thursday night.
They were told the venue had been deep-cleaned and were reassured that they would be fine to move ahead with the planned event.
However, by the end of their wedding night, at least 26 guests had fallen ill with symptoms and a few were rushed to hospital.
Mr Fitz-Gerald was one of the guests who fell ill.
“That sort of puts all of the good memories you had of the wedding in the back of your head because you‘re trying to focus on making sure your guests are okay,” he said.
“I was just upset that I couldn’t spend what was meant to continue to be a magical weekend with my partner, my now wife, and all I’m doing is laying under the covers in bed.”
At least 216 people have reported falling after attending four events over four different days at the Park Venue.
Seventy medical professionals fell ill following a work conference on September 13.
Another 80 people were hit by the illness at a wedding on September 16.
While a third wedding held on September 23 reported 40 cases of gastro symptoms.
The Park issued a statement on Tuesday saying they have voluntarily decided temporarily close the venue while an investigation by the health department is underway.
“As there have been reported illnesses from an event on the weekend, we have decided to temporarily stop operating functions for the next two weeks until we have further information,” the statement said.
“It is possible that these outbreaks are not linked, but we have decided to close out of an abundance of caution until we have further information.”
The venue said “it is not a decision [they] have taken lightly” but the “health and wellbeing of [their] guests is [their] highest priority”.
They remain adamant that they took all precautionary health and safety measures ahead of events held on the weekend.
All parties impacted by the temporary closure have been assisted in finding new venues for the events.
Rebecca said she felt “embarrassed” after the wedding and felt to blame for trusting that it was safe to go ahead with the wedding.
“I kind of felt like I was to blame for it or we were to blame for it because we trusted the health professionals to go ahead,” she told ACA.
“We have spent so much money trying to have the best as we possibly could and I just feel like everyone‘s memory of our wedding is going to be a negative one which is not what we wanted.”
The department of health has confirmed they are working with Port Phillip Council and South East Public Health Unit to investigate the sources of the outbreaks.
They are also working to ensure all appropriate infection prevention and control measures are in place.