NEW ORLEANS — A photo from Monkey Hill Bar this weekend shows a packed house with barely a mask in sight, in apparent violation of several COVID-19 restrictions meant to stop the spread of the disease.
The photo was taken at a live music show on Saturday night and has been circulating on social media ever since, drawing outrage from neighbors.
"So while my shop is out here limiting visitors to *FOUR MASKED CUSTOMERS AT A TIME, my Magazine Street neighbor MONKEY HILL BAR looks like this last night," one business owner said while sharing the photo. "Please see this and know that they don't care about you, your health, your family's health, or our community."
A statement from Monkey Hill's management says the photo shows a private event that got out of control.
"The past Saturday night, Monkey Hill Bar agreed to host 40 guests for a private party, this number fell well within our capacity and city guidelines of 25% capacity," the statement said. "That number quickly grew beyond what we agreed to and my staff did everything within their power to mitigate the extra guests coming inside the bar."
The statement went on to say that they only had a manager, bartender and bar back on staff and they were overwhelmed by the crowd.
"Monkey Hill bar agrees with and fully supports the Mayor’s policies and have been following CDC and city and state guidelines since the beginning of this pandemic," the statement said. "Saturday night was unfortunate and while we do not run from our obligation as a business operating in the city of New Orleans, we have taken this very seriously and are putting in more stringent policies and procedures to ensure that this does not happen again at Monkey Hill Bar."
Currently, New Orleans is in a modified Phase One of its COVID-19 protocols, limiting businesses to 25% of normal capacity and restricting gatherings to only people in immediate households.
Indoor service at bars has been closed parish-wide due to the state's testing positivity threshold.
"This makes me angry for all the restaurants, bars and music venues that are following the rules," one commenter said. "I hope there is some very harsh punishment for everyone involved."
A spokesperson for the City of New Orleans said they received "multiple calls over the weekend complaining about a range of issues at Monkey Hill bar, including lack of face coverings or social distancing, not observing occupancy requirements, and serving past 11 p.m."
Code Enforcement posted a formal written warning on Monkey Hill's door this morning and plan to work with ownership to create a plan to help them work within the City's guidelines, according to officials.
Tulane University issued a reminder to students Monday outlining consequences students could face if caught violating New Orleans' COVID-19 restrictions.
"Since we have been experiencing some student conduct issues, I thought I would re-send a short summary of some of the university's expectations as a stern reminder," the letter said.
The letter did not give specific details about what "conduct issues" it was addressing.