A New York City Republican Club has issued a response after facing backlash over a video showing they held a large holiday gathering where attendees joined in a conga line with no masks in sight, despite COVID-19 restrictions requiring that facial coverings be worn in restaurants unless eating or drinking.
The Whitestone Republican Club dismissed their critics, explaining that "adults have the absolute right to make their own decisions."
What are the details?
The New York Times reported that just days before Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) closed indoor dining in the Big Apple due to the coronavirus earlier this month, the Whitestone Republican Club held a holiday party at a Queens restaurant called Il Bacco. According to The Hill, "at least 50 guests" were at the indoor affair.
Footage circulated online showing revelers trotting to music in a line through the banquet, drawing condemnation on social media and from the governor himself, who said during a press conference, "Why would you do an unmasked conga line in the middle of a covid pandemic, whatever your political persuasion, defies a logical explanation."
The eatery was hit with an investigation by the State Liquor Authority over the ordeal, but the owner insists they were in compliance with the law, including the state's requirement that restaurants limit capacity to 25%.
The Whitestone Republican Club reacted with defiance to the uproar, and they did not hold back.
"So apparently the media is freaking out because we dared to celebrate the holidays in a perfectly ordinary and unremarkable way -- with a gathering of friends and family," the club said in a statement on their Facebook page on Tuesday. "We're now getting calls from the New York Times, Gothamist, the Washington Post and other outlets asking for our comments. On a holiday party. Let that sink in."
The club dunked on "idiot" Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and "King Cuomo" before explaining:
"Yes, we held a holiday party. A good time was had by all. We abided by all precautions. But we are not the mask police, nor are we the social distancing police. Adults have the absolute right to make their own decisions, and clearly many chose to interact like normal humans and not paranoid zombies in hazmat suits. This is for some reason controversial to the people who believe it's their job to tell us all what to do. We ALL have the inalienable right under the First Amendment to peaceably assemble, and that's what we did. There's no pandemic clause in the Constitution, no matter how badly the media and Cuomo want you to believe otherwise."
"We urge ALL New Yorkers regardless of political affiliation to go out and enjoy the holidays in whatever way makes them happy and comfortable," they wrote, concluding, "Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and best wishes to all for a peaceful and prosperous new year!"
The Hill noted that New York is currently seeing a surge in coronavirus cases, "especially in Queens," reporting that "as of Tuesday, the state's department of health has recorded a total of more than 878,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with nearly 12,000 newly reported infections on Tuesday alone."
But The Times pointed out that "both Democrats and Republicans in the region have hosted risky get-togethers," reporting that "criticism abounded after Democratic leaders in Brooklyn held a birthday party in late November where many participants lacked masks."
Several high-profile Democratic politicians have been busted nationwide violating their own COVID-19 guidance, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).
The CDC recommends Americans limit holiday celebrations to members of their own households this year, due to the pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people in the U.S.
Yet, even White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx was caught flouting her own guidance by traveling over Thanksgiving weekend to gather with extended family for the holiday. Birx announced this week that she will be retiring due to the backlash she and her family have received since the hypocrisy was exposed.