Video shows more than 150 at illegal California nightclub amid COVID-19 crisis

SAN FRANCISCO -- Surveillance video shows more than 150 people streaming into an illegal nightclub in California over two days, endangering public health and threatening to spread novel coronavirus, officials said.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and police chief William Scott announced Monday that they have shut down an underground nightclub for violating San Francisco's stay-at-home public health order, making it the first such warrant issued in the city to enforce the public health order.

"Cramming dozens of people into an illegal club during this outbreak is like dropping a lit match in the woods during fire season. Who knows how far the damage will spread? It's the epitome of irresponsibility," Herrera said in a statement.

The illegal club had been operating out of an industrial building.

Timelapse video from April 4 to April 6 shows more than 150 people entering and exiting the nightclub during the early morning hours, according to investigators. "None practiced six feet of social distancing. During certain times, the video showed 20 to 30 cars per hour park or depart from in front of the building," said the San Francisco City Attorney's office in a statement.

Investigators say officers entered the building and seized DJ equipment, two fog machines, nine gambling machines with $670 in cash inside, two pool tables, bins of liquor, cases of beer, bar furniture, and other nightclub-related items.

"This pandemic is deadly serious. People need to treat it that way," Herrera said in a statement. "Education is always the first step, but willfully ignoring health orders is not acceptable. We are going to use every tool at our disposal, including these types of warrants, to protect public health during this pandemic."

Chief Scott also issued a statement saying, "The operators of this illegal club senselessly put lives at risk in a time when our city is doing everything within our means to slow the spread of this pandemic and safeguard the health and well being of the public."
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