wplg logo

Mar-a-Lago gets warning letter about mask mandate enforcement

Maskless New Year’s Eve party at President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach club prompts review

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2017 file photo shows President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Alex Brandon, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – County administrators from Palm Beach sent a formal letter to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club on Tuesday recounting a meeting they had with the managing director of the club a week before. In addition to the letter was a code violation notice. All of this was prompted by a New Year’s Eve party at the club where videos and photographs posted on social media showed a mostly maskless crowd.

On Tuesday, a letter signed by Todd J. Bonlarron and Patrick Rutter, both assistant county administrators of Palm Beach County, spoke of their visit to the club with Bernd Lembcke, executive vice president and managing director, where they had an opportunity to “discuss the county’s requirements related to mask wearing, social distancing, and enhanced sanitization.”

(See the letter below, courtesy WPTV)

The dust up, shortly after the party, included an email sent by State Representative Omari Hardy on Jan. 2 to Bonlarron, which contained a Twitter video from the party with a sentence that followed: “The footage shows that none of the partygoers or entertainers at Mar-a-Lago were wearing masks last night.” Hardy went on to say: “Mar-a-Lago is a club. A club is a business. Business must comply with Palm Beach County’s mask order.”

The administrators’ letter on Tuesday to the Lembcke acknowledged that the manager said the club did provide masks for partygoers and that additional masks were provide for guests who went from the reception area to the main ballroom. “Although you provided these important steps,” the administrators’ letter stated, “it seemed that based on the video evidence, there was a breakdown in enforcement of the mask orders that led to almost the entire room of guests being without masks during the later evening activities.”

The violation dated Jan. 12, 2021, cites Palm Beach County Emergency Order 2020-12, regarding facial coverings. It also mentions the “publicly available photographs and video.”

The warning states that future violations could result in a hearing and a fine of up to $15,000 per violation.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump were not at the party having returned to the Washington, D.C., earlier than planned on New Year’s Eve, where they celebrated the holiday at the White House., rather than rather than at the gala. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump played hosts, while entertainment was in the ballroom featured Vanilla Ice and the 80s band Berlin.

About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.