The party must go on, at least according to the Lake of the Ozarks bar that was seen in now-viral posts over the Memorial Day Weekend with dozens of partygoers forgoing social distancing. Despite warnings from Missouri officials and widespread public outrage, Backwater Jack's manager Andy Prewitt told TMZ that the facility will not stop hosting pool parties, regardless of how much controversy they cause. The bar already has two big bashes planned for the summer, dubbed "No Ducks Given" parties, as well as several smaller ones.
Although Prewitt acknowledged concern over social distancing, citing worries that some members of the Backwater Jack's staff have for public safety, he said that the bar has been left with few options. With the country currently in an economic crisis and Missouri's stay-at-home order just recently being lifted, the bar is not in a position to limit the number of patrons it has. According to Prewitt, staff is more concerned about "making ends meet and keeping the business afloat," and will therefore "do what they must."
Prewitt added that he feels Backwater Jack's is being singled out, as he claims other bars in the area were just as packed over Memorial Day weekend with patrons failing to adhere to social distancing guidelines. He also said that the bar is taking a number of precautions to ensure the safety of both staff and customers, including trying their best to quarantine-friendly, checking temperatures as people walk in, and handing out hand sanitizer.
Although restrictions are beginning to ease in all 50 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many health officials are continuing to recommend that people practice social distancing. That means that people should still try to maintain at least 6 feet of distance when in public if possible. Despite those guidelines, videos and images over the weekend showed little to no social distancing being practiced at the Lake of the Ozarks bar, where dozens, possibly hundreds, of people packed into pools. Speaking with Kansas City network KSHB, Prewitt said that they attempted to promote social distancing, but "we don't know who's in groups, who's in families" and "we expect them to do that on their own." He also said that the bar "won't let large groups gather over 10."
As social media ignited in fury, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page called for those who traveled to or from the area and "engaged in this behavior" to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test. In a statement, she said that the scene exhibited "reckless behavior" that "endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19."