Palm Beach County sends warning letter to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club after video shows maskless crowd


President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club has been issued a warning after videos surfaced on social media showing a mostly maskless gathering during an event held there on New Year’s Eve.

Palm Beach County sent a letter to Bernd Lembcke, the manager of Mr Trump’s Florida-based club, warning that any future violations of its coronavirus restrictions could result in fines of up to $15,000 (£13,348) per violation, according to The Associated Press.

The county has in force a mask mandate that requires anyone in the area to wear a face covering when in “all businesses and establishments and in outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible”, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Videos of the party at the club on New Year’s Eve, including one from Donald Trump Jr, surfaced on social media following the event, showing only a few of the around 500 guests wearing face masks.

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In the warning letter on Wednesday, the county’s assistant administrator Todd Bonlarron said that “there was a breakdown in enforcement of the mask orders that led to almost the entire room of guests being without masks”.

However, he wrote that he was encouraged that Mr Lambcke promised to enforce the face mask ordinance at events going forward.

“Your acknowledgement and commitment to enforce these laws was evident in our visit,” Mr Bonlarron added in the letter on Wednesday.

The investigation was triggered by Democratic state representative Omari Hardy, who filed a complaint with the county, writing that he found it “offensive and disrespectful” that “these out-of-towners for one night couldn’t wear a mask”.

He also claimed that the large gathering could have endangered the local community, in the complaint sent to Palm Beach County.

President Trump had been scheduled to attend the event, ticketed at $1,000 (£734,44), but he left the club hours before it started to continue his fruitless efforts to overturn the results of 3 November national election.

Mr Trump Jr attended the party, alongside the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Fox News Host Jeanine Pirro and GOP Florida representative Matt Gaetz, who is a prominent supporter of Mr Trump, according to the AP.

In a post that accompanied the video, Mr Trump Jr wrote: “This is amazing. Vanilla Ice is playing the Mar-a-Lago New Years Eve party. As a child of the 90s you can’t fathom how awesome that is.”

After widespread reports last month claimed that Mr Trump would be moving to Mar-a-Lago once he leaves the White House on 20 January, a neighbour filed a complaint with the Town of Palm Beach challenging the move.

When the former private residence was converted into a club in 1993, Mr Trump’s attorney said he would no longer live there. The town said it will consider the complaint if Mr Trump moves to the resort that he made his official residence in 2019.

Since the start of the pandemic, Palm Beach County has recorded 94,870 cases and 2,009 deaths, while Florida has seen 1.53 million positive tests and 23,612 fatalities.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 23.3 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 388,705.

The Independent has requested comment from Mar-a-Lago.

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