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Coronavirus : A tough summer for the wedding industry in Morocco

While many businesses have seen their activities resume, the wedding industry is still affected by the ban on weddings and gatherings. Professionals from the sector said that they can no longer survive the long wait.

DR
Estimated read time: 3'

Many brides and grooms have seen their weddings postponed due to the health crisis. However, while they can safely wait for their marriage ceremonies to happen, wedding planners, caterers and other professionals operating in the wedding industry can no longer take a long wait.

On Sunday, the Moroccan government announced a series of new instructions aimed at easing lockdown measures in the Kingdom. While the new instructions were directed at tourism businesses in the country, the easing neglected the wedding industry, stressing that the ban on weddings and gatherings is to be maintained.

Out of business since March, professionals from the wedding industry have been struggling to make ends meet due to the coronavirus health crisis and measures taken to avoid the spread of the virus. Unable to resume activities, some of them have told Yabiladi that they can no longer handle the losses.

Uncertainty : The biggest challenge

«We were the first to halt our activities due to the Covid-19 crisis and abide by the lockdown, but we are not yet aware of when we can get back on track», Hassan Douch, from the Casablanca federation of Caterers, told Yabiladi.

Douch stressed that caterers and other business-owners and artisans operating in the wedding industry have been «hit hard by the crisis». «Businesses have gone bankrupts and caterers have seen their premises seized while others were kicked out by their landlords», he argued.

But in the middle of the current crisis, uncertainty is the main concern of these professionals. «We are struggling to pay our employees, support our families and meet our financial obligations (loans). We need and answer», he explained.

Douch told Yabiladi that the federation has reached out to several ministries to enquire on the situation of the industry’s workers. «We knocked on every door out there and met the ministers of the interior, tourism, and trade to discuss our demands and find a solution to our situation», he added.

Unfortunately, no answer has been given so far, according to Douch. «We just want to know when we will be able to resume our activities. We need a date so we can plan and think of an alternative», said Douch, referring to the possibility of quitting the catering industry.

Losses

Working alongside caterers, wedding planners are also concerned by the setback. Dounia, a neggafa (wedding planner) based in Casablanca told Yabiladi that her losses will be hard to recover if the ban continues further. Unable to work since March, Dounia recalled that «when the coronavirus happened, it was manageable for a couple of months».

«I had some money aside and I thought that I could survive it but the waiting got longer and longer to a point that it became unbearable», she argued. Dounia is one of the many wedding planners who was looking forward to the summer season, the most active for businesses like hers. However, her expectations were met with a harsh reality.

«In February, I spent most of my money on new equipment to prepare for the summer, but most of that is useless now as it would be considered outdated when the crisis is over. It would not be trendy anymore», she explained.

Looking for an alternative

The ban is not only affecting businesses from the wedding industry but also independent workers. Khadija*, a Marrakech-based wedding cook, said that she is uncertain of how to support herself and her family in the coming months if the ban on weddings is maintained.

«We already suffer from the increasing competition of caterers and the ban on parties, weddings, and even funerals. It has just been the straw that broke the camel’s back», Khadija* said. The widow and mother to a daughter said that she is relying on the little money she saved and the help of her family to overcome the crisis.

«I don't know what to do for the next few months. Also, I am over 60 years old and I have no fixed income. If I don't work, I can't pay the rent and support my family», she regretted.

While Khadija* is hoping for the ban to be lifted so she can resume her activity, other professionals from the industry have lost hope and went for an alternative. A group of musicians who used to perform in weddings and other occasions have decided to disband and look for other jobs. A member of the former band told Yabiladi that «two months ago, due to the crisis, [they] have decided to stop operating».

While many countries are fearing a second wave, the epidemiological situation in Morocco still requires caution. Morocco is expected to lift the state of health emergency on August 10, a decision that can be subjected to changes if needed.

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