Officials are ‘outraged’ as hundreds crowd mall food court to meet social media influencers

Jan 10, 2022 | 28 comments

Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios is calling for an investigation of Saturday’s “TikTok event of the year” at Mall del Rio that attracted hundreds of young fans of the social media platform. “This unsanctioned gathering was in total violation of pandemic protocols and we will immediately pursue penalties against those who sponsored it,” he said.

Social media influencers Antonia Ignacia (right) and Kevlex on stage Saturday at the “TikTok event of the year” at the Mall del Rio.

A crowd estimated at between 500 and 600 took over part of the mall food court to meet top South American TikTok influencers, Chile’s Antonia Ignacia and Ecuador’s Kevlex. The pair were escorted by private guards through the screaming throng to a stage where they made announcements, danced and led the audience in chants.

Videos show Ignacia and Kevlex mounting the stage, signing autographs and posing for pictures with those in the crowd. Many of the fans did not wear masks and most of those who did pulled them down to scream and sing.

Although Cuenca Citizen Guards and National Police eventually cleared the crowd, they arrived almost an hour after the event began, when it was in the process of concluding.

In addition to Palacios’ “expression of extreme outrage on behalf of the Municipality of Cuenca,” the provincial government of Azuay Province, the National Police and the national Emergency Operations Committee condemned the event. “This is a serious endangerment of the public health of all Ecuadorians due to the current pandemic conditions,” the COE said in a statement. “The event was illegal and we will, with other official entities, seek to punish those responsible.”

In its statement, the Azuay government said Saturday’s party was a “unforgivable violation of COE pandemic restrictions ordered in December” and said “extreme measures” will be taken against those responsible. “Permission was not granted and participants did not observe social distancing and masking rules ordered by the government.”

On Sunday, Mall del Rio officials said they are conducting their own investigation. They acknowledged that mall employees erected the stage but said they did not know who among its staff authorized it.

Chinese-owned TikTok is the the most popular social media platform in Latin America.

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