New York City sheriffs broke up an indoor wedding reception with nearly 300 people in Queens late Friday evening, officials said.
Just before midnight, deputies were tipped off by an anonymous complaint about social distancing violations at catering hall Royal Elite Palace, where authorities found “large groups of people entering the location,” officials told NBC New York.
Upon arrival, deputies found 284 guests inside the venue violating state and city coronavirus restrictions, the NYC sheriff’s office said in a tweet.
The wedding had live music and served food and alcohol without following social distancing guidelines, according to NBC New York.
9/25/20 @ 2330HRS: Deputy Sheriffs shut down illegal gathering @ 69-02 Garfield Ave, Queens: 284 people inside, location had one means of egress, violation of emergency orders & unlicensed security. 2 charged with multiple offenses. pic.twitter.com/yW39Mpl9nn
— NYC SHERIFF (@NYCSHERIFF) September 26, 2020
Videos and photos posted to social media and tagged to the location on Friday night show an overcrowded room filled with party goers without face coverings. NBC News was unable to confirm whether these images are the same group that was in the venue when the police busted the wedding.
The crowd was dispersed by deputies, and the hall’s manager and owner were charged with multiple offenses, according to the sheriff’s office. The manager received four citations, and the owner was given two for violating the mayor’s emergency coronavirus measure.
The wedding venue did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The bust comes amid warnings from Mayor Bill de Blasio and health officials to stymie the recent surge of Covid-19 clusters in Brooklyn and Queens. Hours before the raid on Friday, health officials warned that new lockdown restrictions may be implemented if outbreaks could not be contained.
“This may be the most precarious moment that we’re facing since we have emerged from lockdown,” Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said at a Friday press conference.
“We will move as swiftly as the situation warrants,” he said. “If this growth continues, it will turn into widespread transmission potentially citywide.”
On Sunday, NYC health officials identified Covid-19 outbreaks in eight neighborhoods that outpaced the citywide average by 3.3 times over the last two weeks. Woodside, where the venue is located, was not listed among the neighborhoods at risk of being shut down.
Last month, an indoor, nearly 65-guest wedding in Maine was found to be linked to the deaths of seven people who didn’t attend, and the infections of 176 people who either attended the wedding or got the virus second-hand as a result of someone who attended the wedding.