Shopping at an area liquor store? Wear a mask.

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, Friday, May 15 announced enforcement actions from the past week, including charges seeking to suspend for 10 days the liquor license of an Atlantic County bar, the Watering Hole Café in the Township of Hamilton, for allowing patrons to drink on premises in violation of COVID-19 emergency orders.

Three other establishments were fined for violating COVID-19 mask requirements, including a Ventnor liquor store.

Under executive orders issued by NJ Gov. Phil Murphy, businesses licensed to sell alcohol in the state are permitted to remain open during the COVID-19 state-of-emergency, but only for take-out or delivery services of food and alcohol. No table or bar service is permitted, and on premise alcohol consumption is prohibited. Workers and customers are required to wear masks on the premises.

The three establishments issued fines for violations of COVID-19 mask requirements included:

  • Olive Garden in Hamilton (Atlantic County) ($500) for allowing employees on premises without masks.
  • Sakura Japanese Steakhouse in Mays Landing ($500) for allowing employees on premises without masks.
  • Community Liquors in Ventnor ($250) for allowing customers on premises without masks.

Violation of the emergency orders is a disorderly persons offense carrying a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Such violations are charged by summons, without arrest.

Since the state of emergency was declared in New Jersey on March 9, at least 29 people have been charged with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency for spitting, coughing, or otherwise threatening to deliberately expose officers, medical personnel, or others to COVID-19. Second-degree offenses carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.