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COVID curfew violators arrested in Key West — including prominent restaurant owner: 'He said it was not a real law'

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At least a half-dozen people were arrested on New Year's Eve

Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @tammyhtherealtor

Police arrested at least a half-dozen people — including a prominent restaurant owner — in Key West, Florida, for violating the city's New Year's Eve COVID-19 curfew, the Key West Citizen reported.

What are the details?

The paper said Joe Walsh has been a vocal opponent of several city COVID-19 restrictions, including a mask requirement, and that on Thursday he emailed City Manager Greg Veliz stating he wouldn't close Fogarty's, his bar and restaurant.

Turns out Walsh's business was the only one that failed to heed the city's curfew, which required nonessential businesses to close at 10 p.m. every night through Sunday, the Citizen reported.

"He said it was not a real law," Veliz added to the paper regarding Walsh's objection to the curfew.

Veliz noted to the Citizen that he told Walsh in front of Fogarty's on New Year's Eve that he didn't have to be arrested but that he had to close.

"I told him it didn't have to be this way," Veliz told the paper. "I turned around, and next thing I know he was in handcuffs. It was unfortunate."

Walsh and the other arrestees were cited with misdemeanors for violating an emergency management directive, the Citizen said.

In addition, a small protest broke out on New Year's Eve on Duval Street shortly after 10 p.m., the paper said, adding that tourists told Veliz they didn't have to obey the curfew.

"I had people telling me they come to Key West because there is no rules. That is the problem," Veliz told the Citizen. "Times Square in New York City was closed off, and they are telling me Duval Street doesn't apply."

Nope, nothing out of sorts occurred in Times Square on New Year's Eve — especially not with left-wing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Police were called to clear Duval Street and conduct crowd control, the paper said, adding that Veliz noted the street was cleared by 11:10 p.m.

Anything else?

Walsh — who's scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 14 — on Friday told the Citizen he intends to plead not guilty and fight the charge.

He added to the paper that the city's curfew violates the governor's order prohibiting local governments from enforcing local COVID-19 restrictions and that the curfew is illegal because the entire city commission did not vote on it.

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