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Private Event Industry Supporters March On State Capitol Demanding Reopening Plan

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Dressed to the nines and hoping for change, people from the private event industry marched on the State Capitol Tuesday. The group is demanding a reopening plan for their businesses.

A different kind of wedding party marched through the streets of downtown Sacramento. Dozens of people from the private events industry told CBS13 the pandemic is hitting their industry like no other.

"Business for myself in the event industry and everyone has really been extremely devastated," Amy Ulkutekin, President of California Association for Private Events, said. "We went from 89 weddings down to six for the year. So it's essentially an entire year's worth of income completely whipped out by COVID."

For private event centers, the road hasn't been any easier since the start of the pandemic.

"It's been challenging for all of our customers, workers that are out of work, unable to pay our bills," Bill Zaruka, CEO of Wedgewood Weddings, said.

READ: 10 California Counties, Including Sutter & Stanislaus, See Restrictions Eased While Risks Remain

The California Association for Private Events said their march on Tuesday afternoon was an effort to raise awareness and push state lawmakers to create reopening guidelines for the private events industry for indoor operations.

"What we are looking for is the same treatment that the wedding events industry has gotten in other states and, as well as, some industries such as restaurants have gotten here in California," Zaruka said.

"We're not asking for dance parties with 200 people. Quite frankly, that's not going to happen for a while and that's not safe," Ulkutekin said. "But, what we need is a slow and steady growth pattern."

Being a part of the reopening guidelines impacts more than just weddings. Supporters said it has a trickle-down effect.

The effort also helps support businesses that are a part of weddings and events like Doug Daley's disc jockey and entertainment business. All are hoping the state will eventually say, "I Do," to adding guidelines for private events. 

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"For the past seven months, I haven't really worked. It's been a really scary time for me because this all I do for a living," Daley said.

"The end is coming soon if we don't get some guidance," Zaruka said.

Ulkutekin told CBS13 that the California Association for Private Events has developed a 16-page plan for reopening guidance for their industry. The president said it outlines all of the different elements of private events that can provide a strong roadmap for making official guidelines.

She said that the association wants to collaborate with lawmakers to push these guidelines through.

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