OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — They’re the pictures that have made national headlines. People not social distancing at one of Missouri’s top vacation spots – Lake of the Ozarks.
Photos showing people at bars and ignoring social distancing guidelines at Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend went viral.
On Memorial Day, Camden County Sheriff Tony Helms said his department was busy enforcing laws, but that did not include enforcing social distancing and other measures intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
"Social distancing is not a crime and therefore the sheriff's office has no authority to enforce actions in that regard," Helms said in a statement. "We expect residents and visitors alike to exhibit personal responsibility when at the lake."
Osage Beach Mayor John Olivarri said he's concerned about the customers in the photos, but that they knew what they were getting into.
“This is one of our big weekends. Everyone knows that," he said on Sunday. "So, if people made the conscientious decision to come down here and to participate at whatever level they elect to participate, they have made that decision.”
St. Louis County issued a travel advisory after the photos at Lake of the Ozarks went viral.
“This reckless behavior endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said County Executive Page. “I encourage everyone to follow the Department of Public Health advisory to determine a safe path forward in the workplace.
So how do people that were there feel about the viral photos?
Tyler Crancer, a 28-year-old from St. Louis County was among one of those at Backwater Jacks over the weekend. He said he went with seven of his friends. He told 5 On Your Side that the bar took his temperature, along with everyone else’s temperatures upon arrival.
"Supposedly there was hand sanitizer there, but I didn't see any. Who is going to put hand sanitizer on and then get in the pool?" Crancer said during a phone interview. "If you're healthy, go and if you're scared of COVID-19, stay home. Simple as that," he said.
The 28-year-old said he was also at the lake a few weeks ago with 12 of his friends. He said it was busy, but not as packed as Memorial Day weekend.
A man from St. Louis, who's also a local DJ, shared a video with 5 On Your Side from Shady Gators, showing people dancing at the bar.
The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, posted photos on Facebook from the weekend at Lake of the Ozarks and said, "We only live once and we're enjoying every moment of it."
Missouri top health official released a statement Monday morning reminding residents the coronavirus is still a concern and social distancing needs to continue.
“The virus can be transmitted even among those young and healthy who aren’t experiencing symptoms. When they then carry the virus and transmit it to a more vulnerable person, this is when we tend to see the long-lasting and tragic impact of these decisions that are being made,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.