Gatherings Gone Wild: Across the Globe, People Are Flouting Lockdown Rules

By Kurt Stolz on 6 December 2020
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Thousands of people across the globe, from Europe to the Americas to Southeast Asia, have flouted local restrictions on gatherings as they flocked to parties with as many as 400 unmasked and in some cases unclothed attendees.

Meanwhile, any of us could be carrying the coronavirus and the collective consequences of the actions we take, such as attending large gatherings, can be staggering given the “dark winter” that President-Elect Joseph Biden predicts if cases continue to mount.

And yet, thousands across the globe are simply refusing to change their behavior. They go on with their lives as if life were normal, and in some cases, they don’t confine their irresponsbilities to just a few close friends, flouting local, city, and national orders that restrict the number of people one can safely spend time with.

Here are some of the most explicit and perhaps most interesting such cases from the past two weeks.

In Brussels, police broke up what Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Nieuwsdescribed as a “seksfeest,” or sex party, last week.  Among the 25 attendees in the city’s gayborhood was Jozsef Szajer, a Hungarian Euro MP and member of the ultra-conservative Fidesz party, who drafted the Hungarian constitutional prohibition on gay marriage.  Szajer attempted to flee the venue by climbing down a drainage pipe and was recognized by a passer-by. The event was a clear breach of Belgium’s strict lockdown rules, authorities there said.  Szajer later resigned his post and his position in the party.

Police on Long Island broke up a party at a castle-like mansion in Brookhaven with an estimated 400 attendees.  The owner of the home, Matthew Demar, a one-time rapper who had at one point expressed hopes of running for mayor of New York City, had rented it out via Airbnb to a New Jersey resident and was reportedly unaware of the plans for the rather large and dangerous shindig.  It was the owner called the authorities after discovering the goings on via his online security cameras, which at least one guest apparently tried to disable and failed.

In New York City, authorities last weekend broke up a party inside a commercial property on West 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan after sheriff’s deputies found almost 400 people inside.  The sheriff’s department said arrest warrants were issued for four organizers of the event, charging them with “offenses for penal, health, [and] alcohol beverage control law” violations.

In Nashville, a nurse and two roommates were charged with having hosted a party with over 100 guests in violation of coronavirus ordinances, police said. The football watch party took place on October 31.  The three roommates were issued misdemeanor citations.

Meanwhile, authorities in Chicago shut down a 300-person party at The Vault/All Access last Sunday citing coronavirus restriction violations on gatherings.The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said that there had been no social distancing at the event and that no one had face coverings on.  The city’s task force issued multiple citations, cease and desist orders, and closure orders to the venue “for throwing a dangerous and unlicensed commercial party.”

Police in Nottingham, England, broke up a large party at an outdoor Christmas market.  Video of the event published online shows people dancing and ignoring social distancing rules.  The Christmas market itself is permitted under current rules there.

In Kuala Lumpur, police there broke up a birthday party with 31 attendees at a condominium that had been rented for the occasion.  The gathering was in violation of local coronavirus ordinances. More than half the attendees tested positive for methamphetamines.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reportedly hosting an indoor holiday party for the department’s staff to which over 900 people have been invited.

At the end of November, police in New York City broke up a private swingers party at the aptly named Club Caligula in Astoria.  Two organizers of the event and one attendee were charged with multiple misdemeanors, the New York City Sheriff’s Office said.

Finally, the pastor of the megachurch that defied lockdown orders died of the virus, five weeks after the Water of Life church in San Bernardino County reopened in violation of the ban on indoor religious services.

Jonathan Spira and Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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