New York City Man Arrested For Running Speakeasy Where People Were Drinking And Gambling During Coronavirus Lockdown

Police in New York City arrested a man after a dozen people were found drinking and gambling inside a speakeasy he was allegedly running.

Bars and restaurants across the city were ordered to stay closed until April 15 in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the city.

But officers arrived at 354 Kings Highway in Brooklyn after a complaint was made to 311 and found around 12 people inside drinking and gambling, a New York Police Department spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek. The business did not have a liquor license, the spokesperson said.

Vasil Pando, 56, of Brooklyn, is facing a number of charges, including the illegal sale of alcohol, promoting gambling, criminal nuisance and reckless endangerment.

Pando was also charged with violating Mayor Bill de Blasio's order, which shut down nonessential businesses and limited bars and restaurants to takeout and delivery only.

Times Square is empty as people remain at home to stop the spread of coronavirus on March 29, 2020 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images

"The defendant was previously notified of the Mayor's Executive Order and was found to be in violation during the inspection," the NYPD spokesperson added.

Pando's arrest was the only one from Saturday after officers visited 7,667 bars and restaurants between on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday and found 5,867 of them were closed.

On Sunday, de Blasio said New Yorkers who flout social distancing rules would be fined up to $500.

"I want to just let all New Yorkers know that what we're trying to do is say: you've been warned and warned and warned again, now, if an officer comes up to you, if someone wearing an official city, a uniform official city identification comes up and says, move along, disperse... if you ignore it, we're going to have to fine you," de Blasio said.

"They're going to give people every chance to listen. And if anyone doesn't listen, then they deserve a fine at this point."

His comments came as the death toll in New York City, which de Blasio has said is the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. the continued to rise.

As of Monday, the city had more than 33,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 776 deaths, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Across the U.S., there are more than 143,000 confirmed cases, more than any other country, and 2,513 deaths. Almost 5,000 people have recovered.

This graphic, provided by Statista, shows the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in selected U.S. states, including New York, between March 16 and March 29.

New York
This graphic shows the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in selected U.S. states, including New York, between March 16 and March 29. Statista

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.


Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts