The owner of a South Asian wedding venue in Bolton has revealed that the impact of Covid-19 has been huge.
Bolton Excellency is a grand wedding venue, with one hall able to fit 1,200 guests and others capable of seating hundreds.
However, due to current government restrictions, weddings are now limited to 15 people.
No weddings have been held at the venue since the initial lockdown in March 2020.
Nusrat Khan, who runs the venue alongside her husband, said:
“It has affected us massively but I think people don’t really understand that so many businesses are linked onto the venue – cars, florists, cakes, decorations.
“The financial impact is a loss of approximately £35 million for 2020 to the group of business we represent in the north alone.
“This is further compounded by the myth that we will have a bumper year in 2021.
“This is not the case as we will also be short of 60% of our new business slots during 2021 which equates to approximately £70 million in lost revenue over a 24 month period.
“We’ve had people who’ve had to postpone their wedding three times.
“Imagine the constant stress – I know people think that it’s only a wedding but for Asian people, it’s slightly different. A lot of the time, people can’t really start their life until they get married. They can’t live with their future husband or move with them to a new home they may have already bought and paying the mortgage on.
“People have been having smaller weddings in houses and asking for money back which puts more pressure on us.
“I understand people want their deposits back but where are we supposed to find the money? The contract they sign says after 14 days there are no deposits back.”
Mrs Khan criticised the lack of communication from the government over the past six months. She believes that they need to take the venue sizes into account rather than just setting an arbitrary number of guests.
The wedding venue owner continued: “They started off saying nothing.
“When we were shut down in March, we understood and shut down immediately. As time as gone on and how they’ve announced things, it’s left people unsure.
“The government then put in this 30 rule, which was difficult because most people have 300-500 people so lots of people held back. Now they’re saying it’s 15.
“Our venue caters for up to 1,200 people in one of our halls. You can’t put 15 people in there. It’s ridiculous. You can’t even put 30 people in there.
“I don’t think the government understand the scale of these venues. As an extreme example, we tried putting one 30 tables out with one chair on each and there was around five metres between each table. It’s ridiculous and no one is going to pay that sort of price to have a wedding of that scale in our venue.
“We just want the government to allow us to open and run in a safe manner, follow all the social distancing rules, and contribute to the economy.
“Nobody turns up at a wedding uninvited so it’s easy to do track and trace. Even if we had 100 people, we’re not even at 10% of our capacity.
“We changed the purpose of one of our halls into a restaurant and did really well on Eat Out to Help Out but now we’ve been closed down again.
“We brought all our staff off furlough, now we have staff sat at home.”
Mrs Khan stated that the government should not be worried about social distancing being forgotten about when it comes to Muslim weddings.
She told Manchester Evening News:
“It just seems irrelevant and stupid. Parents can hang around the school gates and social distance so why do the government think people will forget these rules at a wedding.
“The government have said people at weddings are more likely to hug or shake hands or whatever because of alcohol, but obviously at Muslim weddings nobody consumes alcohol.
“Some people are even happy to not have the evening reception as long as they can just have a wedding ceremony.”