A bunch of New York City Republicans got together for a holiday party and danced maskless in a conga line as millions of Americans prepare to spend the holidays without family because of the pandemic.
The Whitestone Republican Club’s soiree took place Dec. 9 at Il Bacco, an Italian restaurant in Queens. The restaurant itself is part of a class action lawsuit against the state over pandemic restrictions. Video of the event was first published in a private Facebook group, then shared on Twitter by journalist Matt Binder. The conga line of more than a dozen people was led by city council candidate Vickie Paladino.
Dozens of people reportedly attended the maskless party, according to NY1.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested on Monday that the city would take action with “serious fines” for the restaurant and the organizers.
“Anyone who violates the state rules, we are going to deal with,” de Blasio told NY1. “We have been giving out really serious fines to people who organize events or host events, so I am certain the sheriff and other city agencies are going to follow up.”
The restaurant maintained in a statement to NY1 that the party was “absolutely not in violation” of local COVID-19 restrictions. The Whitestone Republican Club did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but did post a statement on social media.
“The Whitestone Republican Club leadership felt it was important coming out of such a highly emotional election that we hold some kind of gathering to bring in the holidays,” the club wrote in a Tuesday morning Facebook post. “In early December we held a small gathering observing all the covid guidelines in place at the time. Every attendee was told to wear a mask and everyone either had one when entering or was given one.”
“Everyone there had a great time and we were pleased that we gave people that time to be together with others of like mind and spirit as we get ready to move forward into what will hopefully be a much better 2021,” the organization added.
Well, at least they had a great time.
New York City restaurants were capped at 25 percent of their capacity at the time of the party, according to NY1. Due to a spike in cases, the city suspended indoor dining on Dec. 14, five days later.
New York City was one of the major epicenters of the first coronavirus wave this spring. So far, more than 7,400 people have died from COVID in Queens since the pandemic began, making it the fourth-worst county in the country for deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. (Manhattan is the third worst.)
It’s not just Republicans who have flouted COVID-19 restrictions. Prominent Democrats including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed were both caught dining at a Napa Valley restaurant as cases were increasing in their state. And last month, prominent Democratic officials including the deputy borough president of Brooklyn attended an indoor birthday party for the president of a construction trade group.