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L.A. party for first responders appeared to disregard social distancing standards

The Sassafras Saloon says it'll no longer rent space to private parties after a weekend event did not adhere to "social distancing expectations."

A Los Angeles bar rented space for a party — purportedly for first responders who have worked tirelessly during the coronavirus pandemic — that appeared to disregard social distancing standards.

Owners of the Sassafras Saloon, on the famed Vine Street between Hollywood and Santa Monica Boulevards, said they would no longer rent space to private parties after the questionable celebration.

The bar was rented with the understanding that guests would be outside and at a safe distance from one another, owners said.

"Friday’s gathering was arranged by an individual who wanted to honor a group of first responders," the bar's owners, the 1933 Group, said in a statement.

"As this was a private individual’s reservation, it was presented to us in a way that inferred we could expect it to comply with all guidelines, including occupants to be outside on two patios, so it was permitted," the owners said. "We did everything possible to provide our staff and guests with ample outdoor spaces that completely adhered to current safety precautions and social distancing expectations."

However, the progressive activist group Knock L.A., which appears to support defunding of the L.A.County Sheriff's Department, reported that maskless revelers were enjoying loud music and drinking and dancing inside the Sassafras Saloon.

The group reported that the party was thrown for the sheriff's department, though the law enforcement agency and bar managers both said there was no immediate evidence that deputies were involved.

"The persons identified in the video are not employees of the Sheriff's Department and this event was not hosted by the LASD," the L.A. County Sheriff's Office said in a statement, adding that the incident was under investigation.

The bar's owners acknowledged that much of the event was conducted indoors against state health mandates.

"Unfortunately, there were a number of guests that did not comply," the 1933 Group said. "We unequivocally do not condone this behavior and have no intention of agreeing to additional private events, charitable or otherwise, until the state allows."

Andrew Blankstein contributed.