COVID-19 violations at Bridgeville rodeo result in 3 charges and $21,000 fine

A COVID-19 testing event on Friday in Bridgeville. Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe

BRIDGEVILLE — Three administrative charges were filed against the licensee of an outdoor rodeo festival hosted in Bridgeville last weekend and two previous indoor events, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS) announced on Friday.

The Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) officers, who investigated the rodeo festival, charged Alex Garcia, the director of the nonprofit organization, Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York,

The charges stem from violations of the state of emergency order citing patrons dancing, not wearing masks, not social distancing and exceeding the maximum number of patrons allowed inside the event, the DPH said.

While investigating, DATE discovered the group held similar events on Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 at an indoor venue on Kirkwood Highway in Wilmington that also violated the state of emergency. Mr. Garcia must appear before Office of Alcohol Beverage Control Commissioner (OABCC) John Cordrey at a later date in response to the three charges.

OABCC denied a separate application for a gathering license for two additional Wilmington events scheduled for this weekend due to the public safety risk.

“While most liquor licensees take social distancing directives seriously during these challenging times, this case serves as a reminder that some licensees place others at a health risk by not complying with those standards,” DATE Director John Yeomans said in a statement. “Everyone has an obligation to engage in social distancing practices to keep themselves and others safe, especially our vulnerable populations.”

In addition, the DPH has issued an administrative penalty to the Sept. 6 event organizers, Rancho El 24 and Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York.

Due to the “severe non-compliance of the Governor’s State of Emergency order,” the DPH assessed an administrative penalty of $21,000 ($10,000 each for face covering and social distancing violations, $1,000 for failure to secure proper approval).

The DPH said it reviewed photo and video documentation of the event. The documentation confirmed that the event was not in compliance with the current restrictions in place to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

In addition, the DPH has confirmed with the Delaware Division of Small Business that a permit for a gathering with more than 250 people was not secured for the event as is required by the State Of Emergency Order.

The DPH said photos and video from the event showed:

• Lack of face coverings by attendees, as required by the 27th Modification of the Declaration of a State of Emergency for the State of Delaware.

• Lack of social distancing by attendees, as required by the 27th Modification of the Declaration of a State of Emergency for the State of Delaware.

The DPH informed the event organizers that penalties may be reduced if the following actions are taken to assist any potential contact tracing efforts within seven days of receipt of the enforcement notice:

• Provide contact information for all performers, spectators, staff and others who attended the event. This must include the name and phone number or email for attendees.

• Provide contact information for promoters, organizers or others involved in the production of the event.

“We want to ensure accountability for those acting in an irresponsible manner,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, the DPH’s director. “Delawareans and Delaware businesses have made tremendous sacrifices over the months and an event like this counters all of the efforts that have taken place.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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