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Top Stories 2020: ‘Superspreader’ wedding leads to penalties for country club

State officials suspended the North Fork Country Club’s liquor license following a ‘superspreader’ event that led to over 30 COVID-19 cases in October.

The wedding, held Oct. 17, reportedly had 113 guests — more than double the legal limit for events under current pandemic guidelines.

As a result, at least 34 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 and 159 people were required to quarantine. In addition to 30 party guests, three staff members at the country club and one wedding vendor have tested positive for the virus, state officials confirmed.

In October, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that the Cut-ch-ogue catering facility would be fined $17,000 by the Suffolk County Department of Health for violations of the public health and sanitary codes.

“It will not be tolerated. If you violate the rules you’ll be caught and held responsible,” Mr. Bellone said during that Oct. 28 press conference. “We have come too far — been through too much, experienced too much pain, anxiety … economic harm. Businesses are still struggling to survive. This kind of activity is what threatens to bring us back.”

The county executive said the outbreak impacted learning at a total of six school districts including Mattituck-Cut-ch-ogue, Three Village, Hampton Bays, Eastport-South Manor, East Quogue and Northport.

Following an investigation, the New York State Liquor Authority charged the country club with multiple counts of failure to comply with the state’s executive orders concerning COVID-19 restrictions and failure to exercise adequate supervision of their premises. The SLA also issued a summary suspension of the venue’s liquor license, preventing them from serving alcohol while the disciplinary violations are dealt with. The suspension will remain in place until modified by the SLA or a reviewing court.

In a statement, SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley said events like these are unacceptable.

“By now, every licensee should be well aware of the protocols in place to stop the spread,” he said. “We are still in the midst of a public health crisis, and the SLA will continue to hold those who ignore these lifesaving rules accountable.”