The owners of a Manhattan riverboat have been arrested after a weekend party with more than 170 guests was hosted aboard the Liberty Belle in violation of social-distancing rules, according to a report.
Authorities were alerted about a party boat leaving Pier 36 on the Lower East Side about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, The New York Times reported.
When the Liberty Belle returned three hours later, deputy sheriffs arrested its owners, Ronny Vargas and Alex Suazo, who were accused of violating social distancing rules and operating an unlicensed bar and bottle club, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The unnamed skipper was issued a summons for not properly displaying the Liberty Belle’s ID number, the Sheriff’s Office added.
“I want the business in New York to do well,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, whose office received the complaint about the illegal party, the Times reported. “But you have to follow the rules in terms of safety and health.”
Vargas and Suazo could not immediately be reached for comment by the newspaper.
Empire Cruises, which operates the riverboat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Post.
Trever Holland, president of the resident association at the apartment building Two Bridges Tower near Pier 36, told the Times he noticed the vessel from his apartment Saturday evening. He said it seemed that people were not wearing masks or social distancing.
“It’s obviously a threat to the neighborhood and against everything we’re trying to do as a city,” he told the outlet, adding that he snapped a photo of the Liberty Belle, posted it on Twitter and alerted Brewer.
The Liberty Belle, with three indoor and three outdoor decks, can accommodate a maximum standing capacity of 600 guests, Empire Cruises says on its website.
“The Liberty Belle is the largest classic-style river boat in our fleet. She is a favorite venue in NYC for promotional events, non-profits, concerts, corporate outings, church parties, and more,” it says.
In an undated statement, the company said: “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the Emergency Executive Order by the City of New York, as of March 16, 2020, we have been forced to cease our operations until further notice.”
Source: New York Post
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