Law enforcement officers have broken up at least a dozen New Year’s Eve gatherings deemed “super-spreader events” across Los Angeles County, California, arresting 90 partygoers and sending thousands more back home, the authorities said.
County sheriff’s officials said last Friday that a special task force, made up of hundreds of detectives, patrol deputies, and specialized response teams, had shut down at least five parties involving more than 900 people, including at a rented house, a vacant warehouse, a hotel, and a closed business.
During New Year’s Eve, the task force arrested and cited 90 individuals for violating the county’s stay-at-home order, warned more than 900 people, and retrieved five handguns from a party in the city of Hawthorne.
“I have made it clear that we will seek out and take law enforcement action against all super-spreader events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement. “The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations.”
In addition, the Los Angeles Police Department said they busted at least eight New Year’s Eve parties involving more than 2,000 people in the city, including a warehouse party that was hosting over 1,000 people, reported the Los Angles Times.
The actions against large parties came after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged people to cancel their travel and gathering plans and stay at home for New Year’s Eve.
“Please do not let us have a third surge that we simply cannot take here in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. “Do not host or attend a party in person. Do not travel. Celebrate virtually.”
Meanwhile, in neighboring Orange County, Sheriff Don Barnes instructed his department not to enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order that came into effect Dec. 6 throughout Southern California.
“Compliance with health orders is a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter of law enforcement,” Barnes said in a statement. “Orange County sheriff’s deputies will not be dispatched to, or respond to, calls for service to enforce compliance with face coverings, social gatherings, or stay-at-home orders only.”
Barnes said that people should remain cautious in preventing the spread of the CCP virus, and should take the recommended public health precautions like wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing.
“Conversely, policy makers must not penalize residents for earning a livelihood, safeguarding their mental health, or enjoying our most cherished freedoms,” he stated.