Less than a week after maskless holiday revelers rang in the New Year at Donald Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, one Florida lawmaker says the members-only facility should be shut down for flouting county coronavirus regulations.
In a letter sent to Palm Beach County and published by West Palm Beach's WPTV, state Representative Omari Hardy argued the president's club should be fined and temporarily shut down for violating the county's mask mandate.
"Mar-a-Lago is a club. A club is a business. Businesses must comply with Palm Beach County's mask order," Hardy, a Democrat who represents a district that includes portions of the county, wrote.
Hardy continued: "It is common knowledge that the President hosts a New Year's Eve celebration at Mar-a-Lago every year. I wonder why the County was not prepared to enforce its mask mandate at the New Year's Eve celebration hosted at Mar-a-Lago last night. This event has the potential to be a super-spreader event. We cannot allow businesses and business owners to openly flout our mask order."
Hardy's letter comes in response to a New Year's Eve party held at Mar-a-Lago, video of which shows hundreds of unmasked revelers dancing in a crowded, indoor space during a live performance by Vanilla Ice.
In his letter, Hardy said the footage caused him to worry about the staff at the club.
"When I saw that video, I thought about the staff working at Mar-a-Lago I thought about their families," he wrote. "I thought about the teachers who might be teaching the staff's children when school reopens after Winter Break. I thought about the folks they might encounter at the grocery store or at the pharmacy."
Hardy also went on Twitter to share video from the event filmed by Donald Trump Jr., writing that the president's son and his girlfriend aren't his constituents, and therefore wouldn't have to deal with the consequences of their own actions.
"My constituents are not snowbirds like @DonaldJTrumpJr & @kimguilfoyle. My constituents live here," Hardy wrote. "This is their home, and they're going to have to deal w/ the consequences of a potential super-spreader party at Mar-a-Lago long after Junior & wife leave here on their private jet."
Both Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle previously tested positive for COVID-19.
As Hardy's letter explained, businesses in Florida that flout the state's mask mandate face a $250 fine upon first violation, a $350 fine for a second violation, and a $500 for each additional violation.
Based on the footage from the New Year's Eve event, Hardy believes Mar-a-Lago should face the harshest fine available.
"The footage of the party at Mar-a-Lago depicts (conservatively) dozens of instances of violations," Hardy wrote. "If we take enforcement action against the club – which I believe we should – will we seek the maximum fine amounts allowed according to the County's schedule of fines?"
Hardy also suggests that the private club face an even more severe punishment: a shutdown due to noncompliance.
"In our weekly calls, you noted that the County has shut down businesses for continued noncompliance with the mask mandate," Hardy wrote to Palm Beach County. "Will the County seek to shut down Mar-a-Lago if it finds that the mask mandate has been consistently flouted there? We must have law and order here in Palm Beach County. What is fair for the average business owner is fair also for the owner of Mar-a-Lago."
An official with Palm Beach County told PEOPLE it has forwarded Hardy's complaint to its COVID Education and Compliance Team, which "determines if a violation has occurred and what fines may be applied to such violations."
In a letter sent in response to Hardy, the county noted that "a number of individuals, groups and organizations traveling to Palm Beach County from other parts of the state and country that may not have the same laws in place as we do."
Education, the county's letter suggested, was therefore integral: "That makes it ever more important for us to work with businesses that routinely host these events to educate them on the letter of the laws and the seriousness of the violations regarding those laws."
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