TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is responding to an Eyewitness News exclusive. On Tuesday, we showed you video of a bar owned by Sea Isle City’s mayor, which was not enforcing social distancing rules.
The bar in question is Kix-McNutley’s in Sea Isle City. The governor said Wednesday afternoon there’s a cause of concern for the spread of COVID-19 any time health guidelines are not being followed.
“We all gotta play by the rules,” Murphy said.
Video obtained by Eyewitness News shows crowds of people gathering in the patio area Saturday night at Kix-McNutley’s — a Sea Isle City bar owned by Mayor Leonard Desiderio. Few people are wearing masks and physical distancing doesn’t appear to be happening either.
“If you’re closely congregating without face coverings, you are running a public health risk, period. I think we’ve been unequivocal about that,” Murphy said.
It’s a much different response than what Desiderio said Tuesday after we showed him the video taken at his bar.
“I think they’re doing the best they can,” he said about social distancing.
Desiderio’s answer strikes a different tone compared to his approach to the virus in his role as Sea Isle City’s longtime mayor.
For instance, Desiderio wrote in a July newsletter: “Social distancing and mask wearing, it’s as basic as showing respect for your fellow man and your neighbor.”
“Is that what the video shows?” CBS3’s Matt Petrillo asked Desiderio.
“I don’t know what the video shows, Matt,” he replied.
“I just showed it to you,” Petrillo answered.
“Whether it’s this situation in particular or any other one, folks have to play ball,” Murphy said.
The Cape May County Department of Health is now looking into the matter. So is South Jersey Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, who also wants answers from the mayor.
For a second day, Eyewitness News emailed every Sea Isle City councilmember to ask for an interview. We heard back from just once, Councilmember Mary Tighe, who told Eyewitness News, in part, “I am not going to comment on the Mayor’s private business establishment.”