A restaurant in Missouri has become the poster child for lax social distancing after hosting a Memorial Day weekend pool party that saw its property packed with people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Backwater Jack's Bar and Grill in Lake of the Ozarks is a popular vacation spot in the Midwest that regularly draws summer crowds. It was no different last weekend, even given the pandemic, and people are blasting the restaurant and attendees for ignoring social distancing advice.
Backwater Jack's boasts an outdoor pool and bar. Photos and videos from Saturday and Sunday show it being packed.
The venue was hosting a "Zero Ducks Given" party on Saturday, which was advertised on Facebook and had 1,600 responses.
In a post, Zero Ducks Given said there would be extra precautions put in place, including reduced capacity, temperature screening, and extra sanitizing.
One attendee, Tyler Crancer, told BuzzFeed News via Instagram that he and his girlfriend were there all weekend and his temperature was checked before he entered the party.
"I felt fine and feel fine now," he said. "It was a little crowded and the bartenders were absolutely slammed."
"Now that I think about it, probably not a great idea, but there [is] no law when you're drinking the Claw," he added, referring to White Claw, the popular hard seltzer.
Backwater Jack's declined to comment.
It's clear from posts on social media that even if the venue was operating at reduced capacity, it was too crowded to maintain 6 feet between attendees.
One video, shared on Twitter by reporter Scott Pasmore, shows the crowd's density.
The video has been viewed 17 million times. Pasmore told azfamily.com he went to check out the restaurant after hearing it was packed and arrived to find it looked like "spring break."
"I just wanted to come here for vacation, now I’m in the middle of this firestorm," he said.
The restaurant attracted chiding comments about the party on its social media pages.
"Your Memorial Day celebration was totally irresponsible. Because of what you did this virus will be around longer and many people may die," one person wrote on Facebook.
"Could you be anymore irresponsible, reckless, and selfish? Strap in!! Your cases are going to soar and you’ll be shut down for longer next time," said another.
Osage Beach Mayor John Olivarri told the Kansas City Star he didn't see how the crowding could have been prevented.
"My concern is for our workers and whether some of the folks that have come down might be creating a health problem for the community, absolutely,” Olivarri told the paper.
“But the only other thing that you could do would be shut it down. I don’t know how you would shut down Lake of the Ozarks. There’s no way to control that.”
In a tweet, former Missouri senator Claire McCaskill called the videos of the party "embarrassing for my state."
In a statement, Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the department wanted everyone to be safe for Memorial Day.
"This Memorial Day, we caution that COVID-19 is still here, and social distancing needs to continue to prevent further spread of infections," the statement said. "Close contact with others even if you are in the outdoors is still considered close contact and can lead to more infections as we still have new cases of COVID-19 being detected each day in Missouri."
There are currently 12,167 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Missouri and 685 deaths. The US death toll is approaching 100,000.