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As quickly as internet stars rise, they can fall—thanks to the power of online followers who are quick to spot and spread the news of influencers' wrongdoing.
The latest creator to find himself in hot water is TikTok star Bryce Hall, who has made headlines multiple times for throwing packed house parties in COVID-19-ridden LA, despite warnings from local officials. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti even threatened to cut off utilities and electric to Hall's "Sway House"— but is this really in his power to do?
Coronavirus cases in Los Angeles have been on the rise for weeks, leading to stricter COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on gatherings and parties of all sizes. However, that has not stopped influencers from hosting (and posting about) parties in which few, if any, of the guests wear masks and practice social distancing as is urged by health and government officials.
Many LA houses have received warnings from the local police department for partying after noise complaints have been filed. Mayor Garcetti urged Angelenos to stop the spread of the virus by ceasing parties, and threatened to crack down on repeat offenders by shutting off their utilities within 48 hours.
Bryce Hall's Sway House was reportedly the first target, with Garcetti tweeting on August 19, "Today I authorized the City to disconnect utility service at a house in the Hollywood Hills to stop the large parties held there in flagrant violation of our public health orders. Parties like these can quickly and easily spread the virus and put our communities at risk."
So far, the answer appears to be yes. Government officials have long been granted greater discretion and powers during times of public crisis—and a global pandemic definitely qualifies.
Back in late March, Garcetti also announced that Los Angeles would be cutting off water to nonessential businesses that continued operating in violation of stay-at-home orders. In Massachusetts, power was cut off to a gym that continued operating despite shutdown orders, which were then affirmed by a judge.
As of now, it seems that no legal challenge has risen to combat Garcetti's utility shutdown policy. It's unlikely one would succeed, given that repeatedly endangering the public health by throwing parties in violation of government orders during a deadly pandemic is generally frowned upon by legal authorities.
If you are wondering how to avoid having your utilities shut off in the future, the best way to ensure continued water and power service to your residence is to not host parties while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Bryce—or any other TikToker in legal trouble—if you're reading this, you can head to FindLaw's Lawyer Directory to find a utility lawyer near you.