By: Ellen Cans
On Sunday, the owners and captain of a popular Manhattan party boat were arrested for disobeying coronavirus social distancing directives in hosting an overly crowded booze cruise, officials said. As reported by the NY Daily News, the four story river boat, named The Liberty Belle, returned to Pier 36 in Lower Manhattan at around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night when officers from the New York City Sheriff’s department made the arrests and broke up the party. The boat, which can hold up to 600 people, was having a 1920-themed party with more than 170 merrymakers on board.
The party boat set sail at around 8:30 p.m., with many of the passengers posting photos and videos on social media boasting about their onboard exploits. They were also shown flaunting Budweisers and champagne, despite the boat not having an active liquor license. Among the passengers was Instagram influencer, Ivana Kordic, who posted pictures with dozens of partygoers dancing without adhering to social distancing rules and without wearing face masks, despite signs posted on the boat to stay six feet apart.
“So a packed Liberty Belle party boat just departed from Pier 36 on the LES waterfront with no apparent social distancing or mask requirement,” an alarmed local group, The Resident Association of The Two Bridges Waterfront Tower, tweeted, attaching a picture of the boat with two crowded decks. “Who has jurisdiction over these floating nightclubs?”
The NYC Sheriff’s department said they waited at Pier 36 for the boat to return after being tipped off by the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Ronny Vargas and Alex Sauzo, the owners of the boat, were arrested for violation of social distancing provisions of the Mayor’s and Governor’s Emergency Orders, and violation of unlicensed bar & bottle club & Navigation Law. They were given desk appearance tickets to appear in court at a future date, at which time disciplinary actions and/ or fines will be decided. The boat’s captain, Joseph Spadaro of Staten Island, was also arrested and slapped with a summons, as per the Sheriff’s department.
The State law was updated on June 26, requiring boats carrying passengers to uphold social distancing of six feet or alternatively to require face masks at all times, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “No more than the maximum number of people who can safely maintain an appropriate social distance of six feet, inclusive of both crew and passengers, unless all are members of the same household,” said the state law. “If such distance cannot be maintained, acceptable face coverings must be worn at all times by all individuals on the vessel.”