‘Covert’ investigations generate charges for Shore businesses violating COVID-19 directives

Wildwood boardwalk

The Wildwood, N.J. boardwalk has mostly opened for business amid the worldwide pandemic. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A multi-jurisdictional investigation into compliance with COVID-19 directives in Wildwood has led to charges against two businesses, authorities said.

According to a Wildwood Police Department news release, the agency, along with Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and state Alcohol Beverage Control personnel, conducted “multiple covert investigations” during August concerning social distancing violations of Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 executive orders.

Authorities launched the initiative after repeated numerous civilian complaints regarding “flagrant violations” of the orders, the release said. The investigation led to criminal charges issued through summonses, pending municipal court hearings, to two establishments, according to police:

  • The Shamrock Cafe, charged with three separate counts of violating COVID-19 orders, all disorderly persons offenses.
  • The Cattle ‘n Clover Irish Pub, charged with four individual counts of violating COVID-19 orders, all disorderly persons offenses.

The executive order violations are disorderly persons offenses, carrying up to six months in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine, or both. Police said the state Alcohol Beverage Control will issue administrative penalties to the retail alcoholic beverage licensed premises determined to be in violation.

In nearby North Wildwood, police recently issued a summons to the Flip Flopz Beach Bar & Grill for social distancing executive order violations.

During press briefings, Murphy has repeatedly drawn attention to social distancing issues at Jersey Shore bars and nightclubs, urging management to enforce COVID-19 mitigation measures.

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