1 in 5 families will be attending engagements and weddings this Nov-Dec sparking fear of COVID spread worsening
- ● 38% of citizens believe the risk of Covid spread via weddings is average, low or non-existent
November 30, 2020, New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic may have spoiled the big-fat wedding plans of many, but it hasn’t dampened their spirit to tie the knot as planned on the given date and carry on with the celebrations, though with a reduced guest list. Many states have capped the limit of attendees allowed in weddings and similar mass gatherings between 50-150 in view of increasing numbers of positive COVID-19 cases.
World over and in India, weddings have proven to be super spreader events. Recently via a wedding in Maine, USA, attended by 55 people and 1 COVID positive individual, the virus infected 177 people, many who did not even attend the wedding. 7 out of 177 who did not even attend the wedding, died. Closer home in India, in Bihar 113 people tested positive for COVID-19 after a wedding including the groom himself who succumbed to the virus.
With post festive surges in COVID-19 cases being experienced in many districts of India due to overcrowding of markets for festive shopping, festive socialising around festivals and poor air quality in many parts of India, the winter weather and weddings are likely to worsen the COVID-19 situation. In a typical year, highest number of weddings in India take place in the Nov 16-Dec 15 period with certain auspicious days in between having up to 50,000 weddings on a single day.
LocalCircles observed an increase in citizen posts in regards to how they will be attending weddings and their plans to stay safe. Instances were also highlighted in Delhi of hotels taking bookings in 3 names as a work around to the 50 guests per wedding rule of the Government and permitting 150 guests in an event. Basis this feedback, to gauge the percentage of families expected to attend weddings in this season, LocalCircles conducted a survey which received more than 17,000 responses from citizens across 239 districts of India. 62% respondents were men. while 38% were women. 51% respondents were from tier 1, 23% from tier 2, and 26% from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
The first question asked citizens, “What is your plan to attend engagements and weddings in person for November-December this year?”. 8,957 responses were received. 44% voted, “don’t have any invitations” for these months, while 35% voted “was invited to attend but are taking a pass this year due to COVID-19”. On the other hand, approximately, 20% of citizens are expected to attend engagements and weddings in the November- December wedding season this year. Given that weddings, both local and outstation are generally family affairs, it is likely that in many of these multiple members of the family would be likely to attend and as a result that actual number would be higher than 20%.
Approximately 20% citizens expected to attend engagements and weddings in November and December
Via the next question, an attempt was made to gauge the perception of citizens on the risk of COVID-19 spread associated with weddings. The poll asked citizens, “For the engagements and weddings that you plan to attend in the coming 3-4 weeks, what is your view on the COVID risk associated with it?”. 8,456 responses were received. Notably, 38% of citizens who plan to attend engagements and weddings in November and December believe the risk of COVID-spread is average, low or no existent. Another 57% voted “there is a high risk and they will be taking all precautions”.
38% citizens who plan to attend engagements and weddings in November and December believe the risk of Covid spread is average, low or non existent
38% citizens believing that the spread of risk at weddings is average, low or non existent is greatly concerning as all that is required is one COVID positive individual to spread the virus. Given that many cases in India have been asymptomatic, the risk of spread is nothing short of high.
With cities like Delhi already reporting 5000-8000 daily cases in the last few weeks, weddings along with the winter weather and severe air quality is likely to worsen the COVID-19 situation further putting high levels of stress on the COVID health infrastructure. Many citizens of Delhi have reported via LocalCircles, how finding a COVID ICU bed at a private or Central Government or decent State Government hospital has become an almost impossible task now. 70% citizens via LocalCircles survey in September had reported that the needed clout or connections to find a COVID ICU bed.
Some experts in different local circles have also suggested safe practices for organisers and attendees of weddings to be followed like organising as much outdoor as possible, avoiding buffets and bar setups and having sit down dinners/drinks with a set place for each guest with their name tags. Availability of masks and sanitizers must be furnished to every guest if they are not carrying one. Other suggestions included minimising the singing/sangeet events indoors and having them outdoors and limiting time of the actual wedding ceremony to 1 hour. Some others have suggested organising a COVID test for all guests upon arrival, especially at destination weddings.
All said and done, all wedding organisers and attendees must realise that the COVID-19 virus is very much out there and active and they do not get carried away. Similarly, the local administrators must also watch the daily case loads, the compliances to wedding guidelines and change them accordingly if there is significant worsening of the daily case load.
17,000+ responses were received from citizens across 239 districts of India. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 51% respondents were from tier 1, 23% from tier 2 and 26% were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.