PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – Police in Providence said the Revel Lounge & Bistro had nearly 400 patrons inside the club early Sunday morning, with lots of dancers and no social distancing while wearing no masks.
Officers who responded to the club shortly after midnight said there were 389 people in the club – noting that additional customers had left when police arrived – and said people were not socially distancing themselves, smoking outside. inside and did not wear masks.
A security guard told officers there were 187 people in the club, later saying there were 174, according to the police report.
Police have reported smelling marijuana and seeing people dancing, which is currently not allowed due to COVID-19 guidelines.
A police report says the club committed “numerous” violations of COVID-19 orders from Governor Gina Raimondo, so officers evacuated the club shortly after midnight.
“This is absolutely wrong,” said Johanna Arias, club manager. She said she believed her two-thirds allowable capacity was 239, which she claims the club has not exceeded.
“The way they are punishing these companies is really unfair due to the fact that this is a new era,” Arias said. “We are all trying to get through this pandemic. “
But Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said it was the second time this month that he had used his authority to temporarily shut down Revel. The first time was September 11, after which the owners agreed to follow the rules when reopening.
Paré said he would officially take the case to the Providence Board of Licenses on Wednesday.
“The way they do business now is dangerous for these customers during this pandemic,” Paré told 12 News.
The Revel Lounge Instagram page was promoting an event with a live DJ on Saturday night. An event was also promoted for September 11, when the club promised hookah, a live DJ, and free entry for women until 10:45 p.m.
Promotion of the event noted that masks were required and that only eight people could be at a table.
Although the Governor’s latest guidelines for bars and restaurants allow entertainment such as live music, mixing with patrons and standing up to dance is prohibited; all parties are to eat and drink at their tables, which are to be eight feet apart. The artist must be 14 feet from the tables and no standing service is allowed. Guests are also required to wear masks when not at their tables.
Nick Hemond, the club’s lawyer, said he has yet to see police evidence that the club is violating COVID-19 protocols. He said the owners are disputing they are breaking the rules.
He said the club had previously agreed to be closed for a week when it was first closed for similar violations, including the presence of hookah inside.
“There has to be a strong message,” Paré said of repeat offenders. “They shouldn’t be worthy of running a business in the city.”