Video of a large crowd of people dancing as a DJ spins along a Southwest Philadelphia street this weekend is raising questions about coronavirus safety.
In the videos, which were shared widely on social media, few of the dozens of people in attendance appear to be wearing masks in a gathering that was much larger than what's allowed to take place under the city's current COVID-19 restrictions.
The 55th Street cookout was planned for Saturday night to bring people together, according to neighbors. Those partygoers came together with what appeared to be very little social distancing.
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At least one Philadelphia police officer, wearing a mask, can be seen on the edge of the crowd. Neighbors said other officers showed up later in the evening to break up the party.
The large gathering happened amidst ongoing spread of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia. Philadelphia currently limits outdoor gatherings to 50 people or less. Mask wearing outdoors is required and a 6-foot distance between anyone not from the same household is recommended.
Videos of the party have been viewed thousands of times online.
Neighbors said the idea started when a local restaurant owner wanted to share food with the neighborhood – the invite went out and a crowd responded.
Some residents said they enjoyed watching the party, but because of the pandemic only did so from their home.
“I’m 81 years old, I can’t be down in all that, so I just looked at it from afar,” Catherine Douglas said. "But even if I was young, I wouldn’t be in no big crowd like that. It’s too much.”
In a statement Monday, Lauren Cox, a spokesperson for the Mayor's Office, said that the city "strongly discourages any large gatherings.
"If residents see large gatherings, they are encouraged to report them to 311 or, if after normal business hours, can contact 911," Cox said in part.
Cox said police are looking into the matter.