American faces big fine for hosting Kaiserslautern July 4 party that broke coronavirus rules
By MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 6, 2020
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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An American woman faces a fine of up to 25,000 euros after hundreds of people, including U.S. service members, turned up for a 4th of July party that she announced via a mobile phone messaging service, officials said Monday.
The woman, who was not identified, had booked an apartment in Kaiserslautern’s pedestrian zone for the party, said Sandra Zehnle, a spokeswoman for the city, which is home to the largest U.S. military community overseas. It was unclear if the party hostess is a member of the military.
Around 300 people saw her mobile phone message and showed up for the party. But the apartment couldn’t accommodate them all and half the revelers ended up celebrating outside, Kaiserslautern police said in a press release.
U.S. military police and local law enforcement officials broke up the party just after midnight, officials said.
“The guests were noisy, causing a disturbance and were in violation of the corona directives,” said Kilian Bluemlein, spokesman for the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, citing information provided by the German police. Ramstein is about 13 miles from Kaiserslautern’s pedestrian zone.
Under the coronavirus restrictions in force in Rheinland-Pfalz, indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 150 people, but only if there is enough space for social distancing and if other regulations to prevent a new outbreak are adhered to. Outside gatherings can include up to 350 people, but must also follow Germany’s 4.5-feet social distancing rule.
The party organizer faces a fine of “at least four digits” and up to 25,000 euros for violating the coronavirus restrictions, Zehnle told Stars and Stripes by email.
But the 300 or so guests who showed up, some of whom were members of the U.S. military, didn’t appear to be in hot water, officials said.
“The people were careless, but they did not violate the rules on purpose,” Bluemlein said. “They did not refuse to follow police and office of public order directives” when the party was broken up.
Between late March and the end of June, the city of Kaiserslautern imposed fines totaling nearly 165,000 euros on more than 400 people for violating the city’s coronavirus restrictions, Zehnle said. Some of them were members of the U.S. military, she said.
Stars and Stripes reporter Jennifer Svan contributed to this story.