January 15th, 2021

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago warned over coronavirus mask violations


By Terry Spencer, The Associated Press on January 14, 2021.

FILE - President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is shown in a Wednesday, July 10, 2019 file photo, in Palm Beach, Fla. A Florida legislator wants President Donald Trump"šÃ„ôs Mar-a-Lago club punished for hosting a New Year"šÃ„ôs Eve party where few of the 500 guests wore masks in possible violation of local coronavirus ordinances. Democratic state Rep. Omari Hardy said Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 that Palm Beach County must take action against Mar-a-Lago out of fairness both to local businesses that have obeyed the ordinance and those punished for violating it. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club’s failure to enforce Palm Beach County’s mask ordinance at its New Year’s Eve bash has resulted in a warning but no fine or other punishment.

The county sent a letter to the club’s manager, Bernd Lembcke, on Wednesday telling him that future violations of the county’s coronavirus ordinance could result in fines of up to $15,000 per violation. Video of the party shows that few of the 500 guests wore masks as they crowded the dance floor while rapper Vanilla Ice, Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love and singer Taylor Dayne performed.

Todd Bonlarron, the county’s assistant administrator, said in the letter that while the club may have passed out masks to its guests, “there was a breakdown in enforcement of the mask orders that led to almost the entire room of guests being without masks.” He wrote that he is encouraged that Lembcke promised to enforce the ordinance going forward.

“Your acknowledgement and commitment to enforce these laws was evident in our visit,” he wrote. Palm Beach County has been hard hit by the virus, with more than 90,000 cases reported and nearly 2,000 deaths. It has a population of 1.5 million.

Lembcke and the Trump Organization did not respond to calls Thursday seeking comment.

Democratic State Rep. Omari Hardy, who filed the complaint with the county, did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment. Hardy, who represents a district near Mar-a-Lago, said last week that he finds it “offensive and disrespectful” that “these out-of-towners for one night couldn’t wear a mask.” He said they endangered the club’s staff and the community.

Trump had been scheduled to attend the $1,000 per ticket party, but he left Mar-a-Lago a few hours before it began as he spent that weekend trying to overturn his election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. His sons Don Jr. and Eric attended, along with his attorney Rudy Giuliani, Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is one of the president’s staunchest supporters.

“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,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on a Facebook post that included a video of the party. The video showed tightly packed attendees bouncing and singing along as the rapper performed his decades-old hit, “Ice Ice Baby.”

Last month, a Mar-a-Lago neighbour filed a complaint with the Town of Palm Beach challenging Trump’s possible move to the resort after he leaves office on Wednesday. When the town agreed in 1993 to convert the private residence into a club, his attorney said he would no longer live there. The town has said it will consider the complaint if Trump moves to the resort, which he made his official residence in 2019.

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