Was Action on Covid Protocol Breach at AP Dhillon Event a Wake-up Call?

Industry Watch | December 22, 2021 | News

Covid Protocol Breach AP Dhillon Event a Wake-up Call

On 18 December 2021, an AP Dhillon concert that was to take place at Andaz Delhi at Aerocity, was disallowed by Delhi’s District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). The reason for the revocation of the concert, which was to host around 500 people, was that it would have violated an order banning entertainment and cultural events from 16 to 31 December, alongside political and religious events (among others). The Omicron threat has put a lid on the year-end celebrations.


The AP Dhillon  concert was part of a tour, organisers of which were pulled up by authorities for the audience not following Covid norms at a Mumbai concert a few days prior. While all permissions had been secured, police claimed overcrowding at the Black Boxx plug and play venue at Grand Hyatt Hotel. Videos of the concert flashed by the TV media showed little social distancing.


Across the country, establishments are celebrating the New Year, offering camping experiences, theme parties, cruise experiences, DJ nights and more. However New Year’s Eve will be celebrated with caution by establishments as states such as Maharashtra plan to take strict action if they are found violating Covid19 rules and regulations.


We asked some event managers in Mumbai and Delhi about their views on the action by Mumbai police and the ban on certain events enforced by DDMA.


Is the action by authorities a wake-up call? Is a ban on entertainment events justified when cinemas operate at full capacity?


Aditya Raj, Owner, Planet Entertainment and Events, said, “We have been glad to come back (to in-person events). We have been worried about a third wave though. It’s been a difficult phase and we have incurred losses."


He added that while his firm had handled a number of weddings and corporate events in November and December this year, it ensured that safety norms were in place.


Raj Mutreja, Founder and Managing Director, Gravity Concepts, added, “We are unsure that every event company is following Covid19 norms. The maximum we can do is put in place the double vaccination rule, but it is difficult to control what the crowd does inside. One can’t sip on a drink with a mask on.”


Noting that the action by authorities may not be a wake-up call and things may simply not change, he added,  “We do need to be more vigilant as event planners.”


Adyut Hari Goel, Director, Octave Events, contends that at the Andaz hotel where the AP Dhillon event was slated to take place, there is a big banquet space and the event could easily have been done. He believes there is “a complete disregard by the government of the events and experiential space.”


He added, “They haven’t shown us ways to continue working, and we have received little support from them. In Delhi, due to the continuous fights between the Central and state government, we tend to suffer."


On the other hand, Ravi Rajput, Director, Sea Hawk Events, expresses support for the new guidelines in place, where social and cultural events are banned till the year-end in Delhi.


“The event industry will recover soon. We have seen during the brief phases that it was opened up, the industry bounced back very well almost immediately. I think these rules are for our own good, and to keep the public safe. We must follow them. All we want in the end is the public’s good and happiness. It’s no point holding an event with people being scared to attend and enjoy themselves… For another six months things will remain this way before we can hope for a recovery," he explained.


Ankit Rao, Founder and CEO at ANR Weddings and Events, also supports any kind of ban on events till the threat from the pandemic is out of the way.


“As Indian citizens we must follow the protocols for mass events, and by doing that we are not only protecting ourselves and our families but also the public at large, and hence avoiding another wave,  such as the deadly second wave we had. If AP Dhillon’s Mumbai event had problems, I see it as okay that the Delhi event was cancelled. At least someone somewhere is concerned about what is allowed and what is not today… If you fill a bus to the brim, there could be accidents taking place, so also for mass events, the same applies,” he added.


Making the case for tax breaks and compensation for the event industry, Sahil Bhatnagar, Founder, Wild Blue Yonder Events and Promotions, added, “If flights are operating and other services are functioning, then why are only events being targeted?”

Is a ban on cultural and entertainment events, like the one this year-end in Delhi, the right solution, when flights and cinemas operate at full capacity?

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