A Republican club’s indoor holiday party in Queens, N.Y., went viral on Monday for a video showing the partygoers participating in a conga line with most not wearing masks.
The video features 16 maskless attendees of the Whitestone Republican Club’s holiday party joining a conga line while the person in front holds a Trump 2020 flag and the Bee Gees’s “You Should Be Dancing” plays in the background. The clip, shared by journalist Matt Binder, has garnered 2.1 million views as of Tuesday morning.
At one point in the video, Vickie Paladino, a Republican candidate for the New York City Council, leads the conga line at the Dec. 9 party. The publicity of the video has led the Whitestone Republican Club and Paladino to face backlash for holding the indoor party while Queens has dealt with increasing COVID-19 cases.
“The Whitestone Republican Club in NYC apparently held a Christmas party this year without a care in the world about covid,” Binder wrote on Twitter.
the Whitestone Republican Club in NYC apparently held a Christmas party this year without a care in the world about COVID pic.twitter.com/mHzW86d9M7— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) December 21, 2020
The club’s party hosted at least 50 guests indoors at an Italian restaurant, Il Bacco, even though New York prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people at the time, The Washington Post reported. The event occurred before New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoJumaane Williams makes run for New York governor official Katie Couric: CNN shouldn't have let Chris Cuomo 'yuk it up' with brother Andrew during pandemic State Department issues first US passport with X gender marker MORE (D) halted indoor dining starting Dec. 14.
Robert Hornack, a spokesman for the Whitestone Republican Club, told the Queens Daily Eagle that the party attendees followed state COVID-19 restrictions.
“We held an intimate gathering observing all the COVID guidelines in place at the time,” Hornak said. “Every attendee was told to wear a mask, and everyone had one when entering, or was given one."
“Everyone there had a great time and we were pleased that we gave people that time to be together with others of like mind and spirit as we get ready to move forward into what will hopefully be a much better 2021,” he added.
The gathering took place when the state averaged about 10,400 new cases per day, according to the Post. New York has documented a total of almost 860,000 cases and more than 28,000 deaths throughout the pandemic, with almost 111,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths in Queens County, according to state data.
The owners of Il Bacco, the restaurant that hosted the party, filed a class-action lawsuit against city and state officials earlier this year for banning indoor dining. Restaurant owner Tina Maria Oppedisano told the Queens Daily Eagle that the restaurant followed coronavirus restriction rules for the gathering.
“That party was absolutely not in violation. We did exactly as we were told,” she said. “Every single person that walked into the business was checked in and given a temperature check.”
The spread of the party video comes after the White House has held several holiday parties, including at least 25 indoors. Other Republican leaders including Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves held at least three holiday parties at his mansion this month, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida strips schools of federal aid for mask mandates Florida surgeon general defends not wearing mask in meeting with ill state senator Florida school district to relax mask mandate for high school students MORE hosted a party for state legislators last week, the Post reported.