Owner of Flip Flopz bar in North Wildwood charged for violating social distancing regulations

Authorities said they had warned Flip Flopz management on prior occasions.
NORTH WILDWOOD, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The owner of a North Wildwood bar has been charged after police say he failed to enforce social distancing regulations.

Police responded around 12:34 a.m. last Sunday to Flip Flopz Beach Bar & Grill on West Spruce Street for violation of Governor Phil Murphy's executive order.

According to the North Wildwood Police Department, officers saw large amounts of people crowded around the upstairs, outside patio bar known as Tiki Topz "with social distancing regulations not being enforced by staff at that location."

Authorities said they had warned Flip Flopz management on prior occasions after receiving complaints of repeated violations before this incident.

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The Cape May County Prosecutor's Office reviewed Sunday's incident and authorized charges.

Flip Flopz owner, 34-year-old Joseph Mahoney of Mt. Laurel, has been charged with a disorderly persons offense, in violation of the governor's executive order #150, the North Wildwood police said Friday.

That executive order reads:

To limit the spread of COVID-19 and thus to protect public health, establishments can only open to the public to offer outdoor dining where such food and/or beverage consumption is conducted in a way that ensures groups of individuals will be appropriately spaced apart, and there must be strict limits in place governing when individuals may enter the premises.

Earlier this week, Governor Murphy threatened to shut down bars at the Jersey Shore if they continue to attract big crowds with no masks and no social distancing.

"Numerous examples of bars that may have been trying to do the right thing once patrons got in, but whose lines were filled with people, particularly young people, who were neither being kept social distanced or wearing masks," Murphy said.

Mahoney was served with a summons.

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