Karachi wedding hall owners reject new coronavirus SOPs

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Karachi’s wedding, banquet and lawn owners have rejected the new coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) rolled out by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC).

The Karachi Marriage Hall, Lawn, Banquet Owners Association held a press conference at the press club on Saturday to say that the new COVID-19 SOPs were economically marginalising them.

The association said thousands of employees and other businesses associated with weddings and marriages will also be effected due to more restrictions and bans.

The president of the association said that the new SOPs were against the Constitution, which allowed the freedom to earn lawful money to all citizens.

He explained that wedding hall owners and their thousands of employees had already faced a severe economic crisis when all the halls were closed between March 13 and September 15 during the lockdown period.

The association members lamented that when halls reopened after September 15, they did not get the anticipated business as most people prefer not to get married during Muharram and Safar, which took place after the halls were reopened.

The association said that there were an estimated 800 wedding halls in Karachi alone, adding that the livelihood of 50,000 people and their families were linked to these halls.

“Around 70 to 80% of our employees work on daily wages,” he said, adding that the earning of such employees depended on daily wedding events.

The association pointed out that there are roughly 13,000 wedding halls in the entire country, with which 650,000 labourers’ livelihoods are directly linked. Fifty per cent of the city’s industries, the association highlighted, were directly and the rest of the 50% were indirectly linked to wedding halls.

“With the closure of the wedding halls due the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of labourers will be directly or indirectly affected,” said the association’s president.

The government, which should be a role model, had itself failed to limit the number of people attending its political gatherings and implement the SOPs, stated the association said.

“We want to bring this into your knowledge that wedding halls is the only industry which didn’t get any relief from the government since the lockdown of March 13,” said Raees.

He said that even when wedding halls were allowed to open after September 15, they were sealed and fined in the city repeatedly in the name of SOPs violations.

He requested Prime Minister Imran Khan, the chief justice of Pakistan and army chief to look into the miseries of the wedding hall owners and their employees. “We demand SOPs be drafted for wedding ceremonies after taking us on board,” he said.