Covid-19: Wedding planners and traders anxious, but many say curbs needed
The Delhi government’s decision on Tuesday to cap the number of wedding guests at 50 and its move to get powers from the Union government to lock down select markets have drawn mixed reactions from traders and event planners.
While several banquet owners bemoaned the lost chance to recoup losses incurred during the March 25 lockdown and said the decision could potentially obstruct the recovery of the Capital’s economy, others appreciated the government initiatives and said they were much-needed steps in the light of the surge in Covid-19 cases.
Between November 1 and 16, over 101,000 Covid-19 infections were added to Delhi’s tally. In this period, the city recorded most infections (8,593 on November 11) and deaths (104 on November 12) for a single day.
The proposal to cap the number of guests has been sent to lieutenant governor (L-G) Anil Baijal, who chairs the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) for approval.
With just a week left for the wedding season to start---the auspicious period for weddings this year is between November 24 to December 12—banquet and hotel owners were looking to stay afloat make up the losses sustained during the wedding season between April and June due to the lockdown.
On Tuesday, banquet and hotel owners’ associations started getting panic calls from clients and some of the associations even met with minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai, and urged him to intervene.
Sandeep Madan, vice president of Community Welfare Banquet Association, said, “We had a meeting with Rai ji, as the Delhi government’s proposal to restrict the number of guests will ruin us. We have called back our workforce from villages as we were finally back in business. This decision will adversely impact the livelihood of 10 lakh families associated with the wedding industry.”
There was no response from the ministry of home affairs to calls and messages seeking his comment.
On October 31, the DDMA had allowed 200 guests at weddings and related functions. Since then, banquet halls and hotels have been accepting bookings accordingly, they said.
“Our clients have distributed wedding invites. We have placed orders keeping the increased guest limit. How are we supposed to work?” said Madan.
A delegation of Delhi tent owners’ federation went to meet the CM on Tuesday afternoon to request him to reconsider the decision but they couldn’t meet the CM.
Pankaj Shokeen, general secretary, Delhi tent owners’ federation, said, “The CM didn’t meet us. We will request the L-G to reconsider the matter, as it will have serious financial repercussions for the industry. Some of us have taken loan or borrowed money at high interest rates to make arrangements. If the numbers are restricted to 50, we will be ruined.”
Their anxieties were shared by traders, though the government has insisted that these fresh restrictions should not be viewed as a “lockdown”.
Brijesh Goyal, president of chamber of trade and industry, said: “Traders are anxious after Tuesday’s announcement. We will do a video conference on Wednesday with more than 200 market associations in which we will be recording the views and opinions of traders, which will be sent to the chief minister’s office. We shall also discuss measures related to social distancing, Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and precautions that can be taken to avoid the temporary shutting down of any market.”
Ajay Bajaj, advisor to the Karol Bagh traders’ federation, said: “We stand with the Delhi government on this. The Covid-19 situation in the city has gone out of hand and it poses a great risk for anyone. Such restrictions are inevitable at this point.”