The owners of the Liberty Belle, a boat that hosted an illicit nautical party on August 2nd, 2020, have been arrested for violating New York City's social distancing provisions and ban on large gatherings in light of COVID-19.
Following a tip-off to police, the "floating nightclub," a four-level, 600-capacity vessel which contained 172 partygoers, was seized roughly two hours after it embarked from Pier 36 in Lower Manhattan.
The boat’s owners, Ronny Vargas and Alex Suazo, have been arrested for organizing the illegal event and running a bar without a liquor license. "I want the business in New York to do well,” said Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, in a quote provided to the New York Times. "But you have to follow the rules in terms of safety and health." Brewer had alerted police after receiving a complaint about the boat from local residents.
You can view photos of the unauthorized party below.
The news of Vargas and Suazo's arrests arrives as the state of New York continues its stringent crackdown on illicit raves and large gatherings. One day prior to the Liberty Belle event, an illegal rave took place under Brooklyn's Kosciuszko Bridge in which social distancing ordinances were largely ignored.
In late July, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state's Department of Health would conduct an investigation into "Safe & Sound," a concert in the Hamptons headlined by The Chainsmokers that was ubiquitously panned for its purported lack of social distancing enforcement after its initial promotion as a drive-in event. "We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health," Cuomo said.