An Indian couple is under investigation over a chartered flight linked to their wedding.
The authorities in southern India are investigating a couple who are reported to have chartered a plane and performed a marriage ritual in midair in front of scores of guests, a breach of Covid-19 guidelines in a country that is being devastated by a second wave of the coronavirus.
The couple had intended to tie the knot in front of family and friends at a hotel in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, but coronavirus restrictions capped the guest list at 50 people.
Instead, according to reports in the Indian news media, the couple chartered a commercial aircraft operated by SpiceJet, an Indian carrier, and boarded the plane on Sunday morning along with about 160 people. The flight traveled from Madurai in Tamil Nadu to the city of Bangalore, a journey of more than an hour.
Family members of the couple, whom the authorities have not named, told the airline that they had already gotten married and were taking their guests on a postnuptial joy ride.
As the aircraft flew over the Meenakshi Amman Temple, spread over about 14 acres on the southern bank of Madurai, the bride and groom stood along with other passengers. A video shared on social media showed the groom placing a traditional ornament around the bride’s neck while passengers cheered and took photos.
The bride wore flowers and jewelry, traditional wedding attire for Hindus, while the groom wore customary southern Indian clothes. Guests were pictured maskless and crowded close together on the nearly packed flight.
A SpiceJet spokesperson said that the airline had informed the passengers about pandemic guidelines, including requirements that they wear masks and refrain from photography onboard.
“The agent and the guest passengers were briefed in detail, both in writing as well as verbally, on social distancing and safety norms to be followed as per Covid guidelines both at the airport and onboard the aircraft throughout the journey.,” the airline said in a statement.
India on Tuesday reported more than 196,000 new cases and 3,511 deaths from the virus, a slight decline from the global highs of recent weeks. For the 12th consecutive day, the number of people recovering from the virus outnumbered new infections, according to national data, although experts believe that India’s tallies of infections and deaths are significantly lower than the true toll.
Tamil Nadu has India’s fourth-highest coronavirus caseload. The state is averaging 34,000 new cases daily, and recorded 422 deaths from the virus on Monday.