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Warning letter to Mar-a-Lago cites 'breakdown in enforcement' of mask mandate

Letter, code violation notice reference New Year's Eve party, warn of potential for future fines
Mar-a-Lago Club, July 2019
Posted at 9:44 AM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 10:31:39-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County has sent a warning letter to President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club after video widely shared on social media showed a mostly maskless crowd partying on the dance floor during a New Year's Eve celebration.

A warning letter issued Tuesday notes "a breakdown in enforcement of the mask orders that led to almost the entire room of guests being without masks during the later evening activities."

The letter, addressed to Bernd Lembcke, Mar-a-Lago's executive vice president and managing director, warns that further violations of the county's mask mandate could result in "potential fines."

It was accompanied by a code violation notice.

Both the letter and violation notice cite video from the evening of Dec. 31 and the morning hours of New Year's Day as evidence that partygoers were violating the county's coronavirus-prompted mask mandate.

One such video was posted by Donald Trump Jr. The president's eldest son shared a public video on his Facebook page that showed him and a mostly maskless crowd crammed together near the stage, where Wellington rapper Vanilla Ice was performing his 1989 hit song "Ice Ice Baby" and a cover of Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music."

In the letter from assistant county administrators Todd Bonlarron and Patrick Rutter, they point out how Lembcke explained the protocols that were in place for the party. Among the measures that Mar-a-Lago took, they noted, was that masks were provided to all partygoers and additional masks were provided to all guests as they walked from the reception area to the main ballroom.

Nevertheless, Bonlarron and Rutter wrote that, despite "these important steps," there was a "breakdown in enforcement" that led to the lapse in mask-wearing at the party.

The president and first lady Melania Trump were not in attendance, having returned to Washington hours before the event took place.