Health squad members abused for trying to control guests

The Health Department, engaged in a massive exercise to prevent the spread of COVID-19, had to face an unanticipated crisis on Sunday — families going ahead with grand weddings.

Despite strict instructions from the district administration to restrict the number of attendees, a wedding solemnised at Kollam Town Hall saw a large gathering of guests. The Corporation health squad members, who arrived on the venue to control the inflow of guests, were allegedly abused and manhandled by the relatives. “While many families are conducting just the ceremony in the presence of close relatives, some others are causing a huge health risk by throwing lavish weddings. If a single guest tests positive for COVID-19, all others will have to be quarantined,” an official said.

Many calls

According to the Corporation authorities, they got in touch with the person who booked the hall on Saturday and instructed the family to conduct the wedding in a simple manner with minimal guests. “We all know there is a ban on mass gatherings and the public is expected to cooperate. We had contacted them before the wedding to ensure this, but on the day of the wedding we received many calls about the crowd at Town Hall,” he said.

After reaching the hall, the officials, including Corporation secretary, closed the gate and blocked the entry, much to the annoyance of the family, who reportedly had made arrangements for hosting 2,000 guests. “More than 500 persons were already inside the hall when we reached and we tried to restrict the entry of more people. We were heckled and verbally abused while we were trying to do our duty,” he said.

Following the incident, the hall was locked after the wedding and permission was denied to conduct the reception scheduled for the evening. The Kollam Corporation secretary has filed a complaint with District Collector, Assistant Commissioner of Police, and District Medical Officer demanding legal action against those involved.

Many weddings conducted in the district on Sunday had restricted the number of guests below fifty and all related events and celebrations were called off. Health officials said they were keeping a close tab on all auditoriums and inspections would be held on the coming days too.

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