As the vaccination rollout continues and the Garden State re-opening accelerates, the State Police plans to keep an eye on party-goers and the establishments that serve them to make sure nobody is jumping the gun.
State Police Superintendent Pat Callahan said patrols will pay particular attention to bars down the shore, where several incidents took place last summer with mobs of young people crammed together, not wearing masks.
He said normally troopers are focused on disarming dangerous subjects, pulling individuals from car accidents or responding to emergencies.
“They’re also being asked to go out and make sure that people are gathering safely,” he said. “Making sure that people are wearing masks when they’re supposed to be.”
He stressed compliance with social distancing and other executive orders has been high and bar and restaurant owners are simply being asked to continue that effort.
“We want their businesses to thrive but we also want their patrons to be responsible,” he said. “And we ask that those bar owners take that responsibility to heart.”
Last week, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division ordered a Wildwood bar to stop serving alcohol through the summer. State regulators said Shamrock Beef & Ale, on Pacific Avenue, repeatedly violated pandemic restrictions on social distancing and a 10 p.m. curfew.
Callahan said he understands that young people may feel invincible and think the virus is no threat to them but they can easily pass COVID along to a grandparent or someone with a compromised immune system.
“I don’t think any young New Jerseyan wants to live with the thought that they were responsible for the death or the sickness of a loved one,” he said. “When capacity limits are enforced, it’s not to throw a wet blanket on the party. It truly is at the end of the day about saving lives.”