The scenes underscored how some interpreted the loosening of restrictions on coronaviruses before the Memorial Day vacation as an invitation to return to a pre-pandemic version of normal. Amidst varied and sometimes contradictory orders from state and local authorities, people across the country had to decide for themselves how strictly to follow the rules.
The images sparked a barrage of criticism from people irritated by the open disregard for guidelines that public health experts have spent months promoting.
“I don’t even know what to say anymore,” said Meghan McCain, co-host of “The View” on ABC. tweeted.
Like most countries, Missouri has allowed some companies to reopen and lift pandemic bans on non-essential activities, although researchers warn that the virus is still spreading at epidemic rates in Missouri and 23 other states.
After the Missouri home stay order expired on May 3, Governor Mike Parson (R) said a range of businesses, including large halls, could resume service as long as the seats were spaced apart to impose social distancing. State directives mirror those issued by the federal government, asking people to stay within six feet of each other when outside their homes.
Many businesses around Lake Ozarks closed in the spring when the pandemic broke out. But as the state was about to reopen, they allowed customers to book again. Several hotels and resorts last week told local media that they were sold out until the weekend.
In videos widely shared on social media, you could see people lined up in front of the Backwater Jack’s, waiting to enter the already crowded bar and grill.
“Without Corona,” shouted a man in line as the camera turned towards him.
The waterfront property held a pool party called “Zero Ducks Given” on Saturday with DJs and live bands. A Facebook page described the event as a summer launch party and showed that almost 400 people attended it.
A Backwater Jack’s representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. The organizer of the event said in a message posted on Facebook on May 7 that the place had “worked with and taken the advice of government representatives and management teams and would follow the guidelines on social distancing” , adding: “Additional precautions and safety measures will be taken”.
Missouri has reported more than 11,700 cases of coronavirus and 676 deaths. A study by researchers at Imperial College London said it was one of 24 states in the United States that had not yet stopped the coronavirus and were at risk of a second wave of infections.
Meryl Kornfield contributed to this report.