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New York restaurant loses liquor license after 'Covid conga line' party

Video captured dancing, mask-less Republicans partying at Il Bacco in Queens.

New York state authorities yanked the liquor license of a restaurant that played host to a "Covid conga line" and might have led to at least one infection, officials said Thursday.

The Whitestone Republican Club threw its Christmas bash at Il Bacco on Northern Boulevard in the borough of Queens, and the group danced the night away without masks.

In widely circulated video footage, nearly a dozen revelers — none of whom were wearing a mask — could be seen dancing and singing to the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing.” The head of the conga line appeared to be holding a flag in support of President Donald Trump.

“After video surfaced of a potential superspreader holiday party at Il Bacco with maskless dancing, the SLA immediately launched an investigation," the State Liquor Authority said in a statement.

"During a follow-up inspection, investigators found flagrant violations of indoor dining regulations and existing health safety and Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, while verifying the maskless party depicted in the video did in fact occur."

Il Bacco, an Italian restaurant in Queens, N.Y.
Il Bacco, an Italian restaurant in Queens, N.Y., was the setting for the Whitestone Republican Club's indoor holiday party.Googe Maps

At least one guest at that party has tested positive for coronavirus, the Whitestone Republican Club said Thursday.

"We wish the best to Jim Trent for a speedy recovery and understand that his hospitalization was purely precautionary, and that he is being released today," the club said in a statement. "Whether he contracted the virus at our event, his club’s holiday party held a few days prior, or in the normal course of life will likely never be known."

The club was unapologetic about the party, saying its members will not give in to "threat of force by official penalty and retaliation."

"Defending our personal liberties is paramount in a free society, and no one should be penalized, shamed, or ostracized for how they choose to live their life," the club said in a statement.

An answering machine at Il Bacco said it would be closed until indoor dining is permitted again.

Several emails to Il Bacco seeking management's comment on the license suspension were not immediately returned.

"This summary suspension should send a strong message that we have zero tolerance for establishments that put New Yorkers’ health at risk," the state liquor authority added.

Those partygoers drew the ire of Queens native and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Conga lines are not smart,” Cuomo said shortly the viral video surfaced. “Why you would do an unmasked Covid conga line in the middle of a Covid pandemic — whatever your political persuasion — defies logical explanation as far as I’m concerned.”