Some New Yorkers are flouting stay-at-home orders and continuing to party amid the coronavirus pandemic.
NBC reports a New York City bar owner has been arrested for violating social distancing rules after at least a dozen people were found inside, drinking and gambling. The speakeasy at 354 Kings Hwy in Brooklyn was among 7,667 bars and restaurants in NYC that police visited to ensure compliance; the owner was the first in the city to be arrested over a statewide shutdown on non-essential businesses.
He was charged with illegal sale of alcohol, promoting gambling and violating Mayor Bill de Blasio’s order.
De Blasio has threatened to fine people up to $500 if they refuse to practice social distancing.
President Donald Trump has extended nationwide social distancing guidelines through April 30, while states and local governments issue stronger rules. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has banned large gatherings and ordered residents to remain at home until at least April 15.
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon issued an emergency order Friday temporarily banning all parties, celebrations and other social gatherings, threatening Syracuse-area residents with fines and possible jail time. Days earlier, he criticized a Radisson group for holding a tailgating party.
According to the Daily Orange, Syracuse University has also received reports of SU students violating social distancing orders. A school official said Saturday that the Department of Public Safety will work with city and county officials to enforce Cuomo’s order.
Similar violations have been reported elsewhere.
The New York Post reports Lucian Wintrich, a former White House reporter and writer for The Gateway Pundit, invited a group of about 20 friends to have a “corona potluck” at his NYC apartment. He said he was inspired by chickenpox parties in the 1990s, held by parents to intentionally expose children and inoculate them before a vaccine was developed.
“The majority of folks I invited, if they got it, would recover fairly quickly and build up an immunity to the present form of COVID-19,” Wintrich, 31, claimed.
At least four University of Tampa students tested positive for coronavirus last week after partying during spring break in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis did not close public beaches, leaving decisions to local governments, but did warn against groups larger than ten.
Police have broken up several large weddings in New Jersey for defying coronavirus rules against large gatherings. NJ police also shut down a “YouTube party” held by 30 people gathering last week to make videos together.
And Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said Tuesday that at least one person who attended a recent “coronavirus party” in the state tested positive for COVID-19 and scolded those ignoring social distancing recommendations.
“This is the part where I tell everybody to remain calm while remaining calm myself,” Beshear said, according to CBS. “Because anyone who goes to something like this may think they are indestructible, but it’s someone else’s loved one that they are going to hurt.”
People who are senior citizens or have pre-existing conditions are most vulnerable to coronavirus, but that hasn’t stopped some older Americans from going out as normal.
Dr. Knut M. Wittkowski, the former chief biostatistician and epidemiologist at Rockefeller University Hospital, told the New York Post that he regularly goes to one of two illicit restaurants secretly operating the Upper East Side.
“Yesterday I went to my favorite speakeasy and had dinner,” he said, without naming the establishment.
The veteran physician told the newspaper that he believes social distancing will only prolong the virus by preventing the natural development of “herd immunity.”
“This is a flu and this will end like every other flu did before for the last thousand years.”
New York state has more than 59,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 1,000 deaths related to coronavirus, Cuomo said Sunday. The U.S. has more than 143,000 cases confirmed, more than any other country, and at least 2,500 deaths due to COVID-19.