An event director who organized an outdoor rodeo and concert near Bridgeville faces fines and charges after hundreds of people gathered at the venue, violating the Delaware state-of-emergency restrictions.
The event was held Sept. 6 at a farm on Redden Road east of Bridgeville, and video from the scene showed patrons dancing with no social distancing or face coverings. The event prompted Division of Public Health officials to hold a COVID-19 screening Sept. 11 in Woodbridge for anyone who attended the function.
The Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement investigated the rodeo festival and charged Alex Garcia, director of the Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York, with three administrative charges that included exceeding the maximum number of patrons allowed inside the event.
While investigating, DATE officials discovered the group held similar events Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 at an indoor venue on Kirkwood Highway that also violated the state of emergency.
Garcia must appear before Office of Alcohol Beverage Control Commissioner John Cordrey at a later date to answer 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, officials said.
“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,” said DATE Director John Yeomans. “Everyone has an obligation to engage in social distancing practices to keep themselves and others safe, especially our vulnerable populations.”
After reviewing photos and video from the Sept. 6 rodeo, Division of Public Health officials issued penalties against the Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York and Rancho El 24, the event organizers.
Not only were people not social distancing or wearing face coverings, officials said, the event did not have a permit from the Delaware Division of Small Business for a gathering of more than 250 people.
As a result of the violations, DPH fined the organizers $21,000, which included $10,000 each for face covering and social distancing violations, and $1,000 for failure to secure proper approval.
Officials said penalties may be reduced if event organizers provide names and contact information for all spectators, performers, staff, promoters and organizers who were at the event. This must include phone numbers or email addresses, officials said, and the information must be received within seven days of receipt of the enforcement notice.
“We want to ensure accountability for those acting in an irresponsible manner,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “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.”
COVID-19 testing urged
The Delaware Division of Public Health is strongly encouraging COVID-19 testing for anyone who attended the rodeo event that took place Sept. 6, at Rancho El 24 east of Bridgeville. Anyone who attended is advised to get tested as soon as possible at a site most convenient to them by checking the testing calendar on the state’s coronavirus website at de.gov/gettested.
“There is significant concern for community spread of the virus as a result of this event,” said Rattay. “We want to make sure that everyone who attended that event knows they're at risk. It is important that anyone attending the event get tested as soon as possible to identify if they have been infected by the virus that causes COVID-19, and that they take steps to isolate and protect their friends and family from also contracting the disease.”
Information about current and future testing sites is available at de.gov/gettested. The latest data on COVID-19 cases and deaths can be found on the Division of Public Health’s My Healthy Community data portal at de.gov/healthycommunity.
If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or headache, congestion or runny nose without a known cause such as allergies. Other symptoms such as abdominal pain or lack of appetite have been identified as potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation by a primary care provider. If you are sick and need essential supplies, ask someone else to go to the grocery store or pharmacy to get what you need.
If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, make sure to distance yourself from others, particularly vulnerable populations. Older adults and people of any age with underlying medical conditions – such as serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity, and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
People who have complaints about individuals violating public gathering restrictions should contact state or local law enforcement. Concerns that a business may be violating operating restrictions should be directed to: HSPContact@delaware.gov. Questions related to business reopenings or operations should be emailed to email@example.com.
Individuals with questions about COVID-19 should call Delaware 2-1-1; those who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Medically related questions regarding testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can be submitted by email to DPHCall@delaware.gov.