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Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club partially closed after staff infected with coronavirus


Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida has been partially closed after some of its employees were infected with the coronavirus, according to an email sent to club members Friday afternoon.

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"As some of our staff have recently tested positive for COVID-19, we will be temporarily suspending service at the Beach Club and à la carte Dining Room," club management said, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.

"Banquet and Event services remain open," the email said.

The Trump Organization declined to say how many workers were affected. The Palm Beach club - which includes the former president's home as well as restaurants and banquet facilities - has dozens of employees during the winter season.

"Out of an abundance of caution we have quarantined some of the workers and partially closed a section of the club for a short period of time," a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said in a statement to The Post.

Lee Lipton, a member at the club, said he received a phone call Friday saying his dinner reservations were canceled for Friday and Saturday nights. "But they said the car show was going on Sunday, and the hotel rooms are fine," he said.

The partial closure of the club was first reported by the Associated Press.

Palm Beach County, which includes the club, still requires that all guests wear masks, except while "actively consuming food and beverage."

Last weekend, Mar-a-Lago hosted two large fundraisers for a charity called Big Dog Ranch Rescue, including one event at which Trump appeared, praising the group.

Photos from those events show that few attendees were wearing masks. Trump, who had covid-19 in the fall and was vaccinated earlier this year, also did not wear a mask.

Two people familiar with the club said that Mar-a-Lago waiters wore masks during the events. A spokesperson for the charity declined to comment about the event.

The club has not forced members to adhere to a mask policy, though they have suggested masks be worn and provided them to guests, according to people who have visited.

In January, a Florida state representative asked the county to shut down Mar-a-Lago after photos from a New Year's Eve event showed that many guests were not wearing masks. In response, Palm Beach County sent the club a formal warning letter, saying that Mar-a-Lago had violated county code and could faces fines up to $15,000 if there was another violation.

Patrick Rutter, assistant Palm Beach County administrator, who oversees the county's covid enforcement efforts, said he hadn't heard of Mar-a-Lago partially closing, but that it would be up to the club's leadership to decide whether to close in case of an outbreak.

"Businesses would make their own decisions of that was the case," Rutter said.

Omari Hardy, the state representative who had asked for Mar-a-Lago to be closed down, said workers were paying the price of the club's lax mask policy.

"No one around the president wears a mask. The guests at Mar-a-Lago have photographed themselves partying and carousing not wearing masks," said Hardy, whose district includes a town just a few miles from Mar-a-Lago that is home to many essential workers who staff the clubs and restaurants on Palm Beach. "Now the workers, who can least afford to get sick, are paying for it with their health."

Published : March 20, 2021

By : The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Lori Rozsa