‘Almost like Mardi Gras’: Officials bust South Carolina pool party for defying COVID-19 measures

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Fire officials shut down a pool party at an apartment complex near the University of South Carolina campus Saturday after finding “hundreds” of people gathered without wearing masks to guard against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins told WIS he made the call after finding the pool at the Apartments at Palmetto Compress “fully loaded.”

“It was a perfect storm if anyone had the virus to be passed to one another,” Jenkins told the TV station.

According to The State, concerned citizens contacted the Columbia Fire Department because of the party’s size and its participants’ disregard for social distancing measures.

“It was almost like Mardi Gras,” Jenkins told the newspaper. “I saw a large crowd in the pool, in the area on the side of the pool and on top of the pool house.”

Jenkins said only warnings and no fines were issued, even though a municipal ordinance states failure to wear a mask in social settings where social distancing is not taking place is punishable with a fine up to $25, The State reported.

The fire chief did, however, recommend keeping the pool closed indefinitely as a safety precaution during the coronavirus pandemic and told the newspaper that the apartment’s management will be punished for future incidents.