SALT LAKE CITY – A high school dance party at a downtown Salt Lake City club is under investigation by the Salt Lake County Health Department over allegations that attendees removed their masks and were not social distancing.
Organizers of the event, which was held at the Sky, 149 Pierpont Ave., called it MORPH 2021.
Video of the event is now circulating across social media and it's sparking some concern among parents and students.
"I was horrified frankly," Sarah Cox-Smith told KSL. "To see these kids face-to-face with no mask, dancing and interacting with each other."
"No social distancing. No masking. Just irresponsible behavior," said Cox-Smith's daughter, Eleanor Smith, who is a senior at Timpview High School. She said she had heard about the event for about a month.
"They started advertising on social media; they put up posters in the school," Smith said.
Smith said administrators were quick to take down the posters in the school because it was not a school-sponsored event.
"A lot of shock and disappointment," said Timpview senior Annie Snow, who, like Smith, did not go to the party. "Because the regulations for the party said they would be safe, but didn't follow through."
It grabbed the attention of the Salt Lake County Health Department, which has now opened an investigation into the event.
"They need to wear masks at all times," said Ron Lund, environmental health director with the Salt Lake County Health Department. "Anytime you are seeing large groups of people gathered together not physically distancing or wearing masks is a potential problem with the public health order."
The event was advertised as a safe, fun, exclusive party that would require a mask. Organizers said in the flier that safety "is our number one concern." They said the club would be at 40% capacity and have a retractable roof, garages and temperatures would be checked at the door.
The organizer is a high school senior who did not want to give KSL TV his identity. He said he rented out the Sky venue because it has a capacity of 1,500 people. He said about 450 people showed up, about a third of capacity.
He also told KSL he did everything within his power to get partygoers to wear their masks. But by the end of the night, everyone had taken them off and there was no way for him to force them to keep them on.
"We got some high-risk people in my family, so it scares me a bit," said Snow.
Health department officials said they will meet with the organizer to find out more about what happened. Possible penalties include education, shutting down the club for a time, or a fine.