A nearly 300-person wedding reception was shut down Friday night by the Sheriff's Office for violating COVID-19 social distancing rules as NYC fights to keep rising infections in hot spots across the city at bay.
About 11:50 p.m. on Friday, deputy sheriffs found about 284 people indoors for the wedding event at Royal Elite Palace on Garfield Avenue near 69th Place in Maspeth, Queens, where there were people inside eating and drinking alcohol, Sheriff Joe Fucito, head of the Sheriff's Office, confirmed to Gothamist. A band was playing live music as well.
Manager Paata Sichinava and owner Aba Cohen now face misdemeanor charges for breaking Mayor Bill de Blasio's emergency measures regarding COVID-19 social distancing requirements and unlawfully altering the nature or character of the business.
Sichinava was also hit with violations for obstructed egress and employing an unlicensed security guard.
The wedding revelers were dispersed safely, the Sheriff's office said. Sichinava and Cohen were taken into custody and given appearance tickets.
Wedding venues on Long Island and in upstate New York recently sued New York State over state coronavirus restrictions on weddings. Gatherings more than 50 people are currently prohibited.
Health officials say weddings are a concern for the spread of coronavirus, since large groups of guests mingle for hours at a time. A wedding in Maine became a superspreader event, resulting in about 170 infections and seven deaths. In Borough Park, an illicit wedding sparked an uptick in coronavirus cases last month.
The wedding wasn't the only gathering caught on Friday night—a large gathering at a Chinatown karaoke bar was also busted.
Seventy-eight people were seen inside K-One Karaoke Bar on the Bowery eating and drinking about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Sheriff said.
A manager, Yu Min Xu, and security guard, Yong Liu, at the establishment were taken into custody for social distancing violations and given appearance tickets.
Xu was also given tickets for unlawfully altering the nature or character of business, obstructed exits, employing an unlicensed security guard, failing to post a state business certificate, and not properly displaying the establishment's liquor license. Liu got a ticket for not attending a security training.
The Queens event hall could not be reached by phone and did not immediately respond to an email inquiry. A number listed for the karaoke bar did not immediately return a voicemail message.