Banquet Hall Owners Demand to Operate at 50% Capacity instead of Blanket 25-Person Limit

28 August: The lavish dhoom-dhaam of the Great Indian Wedding along with Indian society's fondness of large community and crowd-centric celebrations was brought to a grinding halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the marriage and events industries, among the industries most adversely hit by the pandemic, hobble back to normalcy, banquet hall owners have expressed discontent with the Government's order to allow only 25 individuals at indoor/outdoor events.

The Restrictions for COVID containment order issued by the Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Department of the J&K Government on 22 August reads: 'the maximum number of people permitted to attend any indoor or outdoor gatherings shall be restricted to 25' and 'all District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police shall ensure strict compliance to it.'

One of the main issues that banquet hall owners have brought to the fore is that enforcing a blanket 25-person limit on the number of people who can attend events does not take into consideration their hall capacity and operating costs.

Banquet halls are built keeping capacity in mind. While some can entertain hundreds, some are built big enough to handle the footfall of thousands of individuals. Every time a banquet hall opens its doors to the public, it bears a fixed cost including staff salaries, electricity, etc. This cost is then offset by the number of guests in attendance and the scale of amenities in use.

Keeping this in mind, owners have demanded that the Government show some leniency towards the industry and allow for the attendance at events in indoor/outdoor spaces to be expanded to that of 50% of space capacity: a rule extended to other industries as well.