SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (CBS) — Crowds of people were seen at a South Jersey bar over the weekend and appearing to flout physical distancing rules amid the pandemic. And viewers may not believe who owns the bar.
CBS3 was at Kix-McNutley’s in Sea Isle City Tuesday afternoon.
The bar, located on 63rd and Landis Avenue, is owned by Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard C. Desiderio.
CBS3 blurred the faces in the video, but it shows many are not wearing masks and physical distancing doesn’t appear to be happening either as people crowded the patio of Kix-McNutley’s.
Rules set by the New Jersey’s Governor’s Office say employees have to wear face masks, which they are here.
But guidelines set by the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders, which the Sea Isle City Mayor is vice president of, show bar guests can remove a mask only if they’re socially distant.
CBS3 went straight to Sea Isle City’s mayor to get answers and showed him the video that was obtained by Eyewitness News.
When Mayor Desiderio was asked if he thought people were socially distant, he responded:
“I think they’re doing the best they can and I think people want to get out and there are only so many things they can do. And this weekend inside dining begins and we’ll see how that goes. But we have followed the rules to the best we could follow them. And I think if I wasn’t the mayor you wouldn’t be here.”
The mayor also said he “follows the rules more than anybody else.”
But to people CBS3 spoke with on the boardwalk, the video is clear.
“I think it’s crazy with everything going on it the world,” Kim Kellogg, of Barrington Township, New Jersey, said. “It’s crazy.”
“I’m doing the right thing, I thought everyone was doing the right thing in New Jersey,” Williamstown resident Mary-Ellen Muth said. “I think they’re pretty smart. But that’s not good. We have to do this together.”
Desiderio also says Saturday night, he held a private party at Kix-McNulty’s.
When asked how someone who wasn’t in that party could walk in and take a video if it was a private party, he said it was possible for that to happen.
When asked if he’s putting anyone at risk, he said no.
“I don’t think I’m putting anyone at risk. All my employees get their temperature taken before work and after work,” he said.
In his role as Sea Isle City Mayor, he wrote in a July newsletter: “Social distancing and mask wearing, it’s as basic as showing respect for your fellow man and your neighbor.”
Gov. Phil Murphy talked about what he called problem shore bars in a news conference last month.
“It’s the knuckleheads who think the rules don’t apply to them or who think this pandemic isn’t serious, or that it’s over who ruin it for the rest of us,” Murphy said. “And that goes for both bar owners and bar patrons.”
CBS3 sent the video to the Cape May County Health Department and asked if the video made it concerned about the spread of COVID-19, but is waiting for a response.
We also emailed every member of Sea Isle City Council to get their response, but have not heard back.
Tune into Eyewitness News at 5 p.m. for more details.