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Tamil Nadu: Couple’s sky-high wedding amid raging Covid pandemic raises questions; Airline responds
What’s caught netizens’ attention is the manner in which the family and wedding attendees are seen blatantly violating COVID-19 norms
Pictures of a Madurai-based couple’s wedding that took place on board a chartered commercial aircraft that flew between Madurai and Tuticorin, have gone viral on social media.
What’s caught netizens’ attention is the manner in which the family and wedding attendees are seen blatantly violating COVID-19 norms, with very few wearing masks and the others not wearing them at all or wearing it improperly. This comes at a time when Tamil Nadu is witnessing the peak of COVID-19 with nearly 36,000 daily cases and is in the midst of a state government-ordered Lockdown.
It is said that the couple, who are based out of Goripalayam in Madurai, had tied the knot sometime last week, with limited guests as per the 50-attendee cap set by the government.
However, as the state government announced temporary relaxations to lockdown restrictions on Saturday and Sunday, the families seem to have arranged a chartered flight to have a special wedding with more attendees. It is said that the wedding guests were all tested RT-PCR negative. However the claim has not been verified.
Going by the pictures and videos of this wedding, there are over 100 people seated in the flight, with hardly any adherence to prevalent COVID-19 norms in the Indian Aviation sector. Generally, those taking domestic flights in India have to be temperature checked, masked, are provided face shields, sanitizers, etc to ensure safety of all on board.
WION had reached out to the concerned airline for a clarification and has understood that their plane, a Boeing 737 was chartered by a Madurai travel agent for a group that wanted a post-wedding joy ride. “The client was clearly briefed on Covid guidelines to be followed and denied permission or any activity to be performed on board. The approval for this flight was taken as joy ride for the wedding group,” read the statement from SpiceJet.
According to the airline, the agent and passengers were repeatedly briefed in detail on the Covid safety norms at the airport and in-flight, and also about the DGCA protocols restricting photography and videography. “Despite repeated requests and reminders the passengers did not follow Covid guidelines and the airline is taking appropriate action as per rules,” the airline added.
For one week from Monday, Tamil Nadu is in a total lockdown, where even grocery and vegetable shops would be shut. Vegetables and fruits would be sold on carts and vehicles that are authorised to do so by the civic bodies of respective districts. Only medical shops, fuel stations, ATMs and essential government offices will be open, while banks can function with one-third staff. E-commerce deliveries can operate from 8 am until 6 pm. Hotels will function from 6 am to 10 am, 12 noon to 3 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm and provide only takeaways, during which food delivery services can function.
However, the latest government order issued pertaining to this lockdown does not provide information on whether weddings are permitted and the crowd restrictions, crowd restrictions at funerals, etc. It also does not make a mention on availability of cabs, autos, permissions required for traveling to vaccination centres, etc. There is also confusion over whether customers can visit banks, since the banks themselves can function with 1/3rd staff.