A New York City wedding ended in disaster Friday night after cops busted the illicit gathering of almost 300 guests and took the venue owner into custody, according to local reports.
After receiving an anonymous complaint, the New York City Sheriff’s Department broke up the wedding at the Royal Elite Palace in Woodside, Queens just before midnight, NBC News New York reported. Upon entering the hall, filled with mask-less guests in formal wear, deputies found “large groups of people entering the location through what appears to be an indoor parking area as well as loud music coming from the location.”
The wedding came on the same day 1,000 New Yorkers tested positive for COVID-19, the highest it has been since early June.
Citing law enforcement sources, the New York Post said at least 240 guests were present and the venue was serving food, alcohol, and playing live music. NBC reported that 284 guests were sent home from the wedding.
In an attempt to curtail the coronavirus pandemic, state and city officials have banned gatherings of more than 50 people—and every person in New York is supposed to wear a face mask when social distancing isn’t possible.
Both the owner and manager of the venue were taken into custody and slapped with appearance tickets for six misdemeanors, including disobeying the city’s coronavirus orders, serving liquor without a license and not providing multiple points of entry, the two outlets reported.
And according to Instagram, the Royal Elite Palace has been hosting illicit events for months, including weddings on Sept. 4 and Aug. 16.
In one video dated Sept. 15, hundreds of tightly-packed guests can be seen dancing inside the venue for what appears to be a wedding reception. Few guests seem to be wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
The stunning wedding ceremony, held during a pandemic that has killed at least 200,000 Americans, comes as cases begin to surge again in Brooklyn and Queens.
To date, at least 19,165 people have died and 237,227 people have been infected with the virus across the city of 8.6 million, according to the Health Department. While the positive rate in the city remains below one percent, the city is targeting six neighborhoods that have seen recent upticks in cases.
Officials said this week that if several “cluster” areas don’t contain new cases, the city will have to re-impose some lockdown restrictions like the closure of some non-essential businesses and limiting large gatherings.
“This may be the most precarious moment that we’re facing since we have emerged from lockdown,” Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, said at a news conference Friday. “We will move as swiftly as the situation warrants.”
The cluster zones include Midwood, Borough Park, and Bensonhurst—which reported positivity rates of at least 4 percent—and Kew Gardens, Edgemere-Far Rockaway, Flatbush, and Williamsburg. While Woodside, where the Friday night wedding was held, is not named as an emerging hotspot, the Queens neighborhood is very close to several red zones.