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Osage Beach officials said businesses are responsible for social distancing enforcement


Many lake-goers did not adhere to Governor Parson's current state Economic Reopening Health Order at the Lake of the Ozarks and Osage Beach this weekend.

John Olivarri the mayor of Osage Beach said this was a busy weekend at the lake as people wanted to get out, but he wishes people would’ve done a better job of practicing social distancing.

Olivarri said it's really hard to enforce social distancing on a one on one basis so it is left to the individual to make the determination to follow the recommendations that are given.

Gov. Parson's current state order asks every person and business in the State of Missouri to abide by social distancing requirements, including maintaining six feet of space between individuals.

The order also says restaurants may offer dine-in services while following guidelines including social distancing and 10 people max to a table.

Olivarri said Memorial Day weekend is historically a busy weekend at the lake, but officials knew the numbers would be high when hotel and lodging reservations continued to increase.

Olivarri said Osage Beach is not responsible for making sure tourists adhere to the given guideliens, but he said it is the responsibility of each business to enforce.

"It’s up to them to figure out how they were going to handle," Olivarri said. "Just like any other time down here, businesses make the decisions on how they were going to enforce safety guidelines for their employees, and also some of the governor's guidelines as far as number of people in facilities."

 Brent Boyles owner of Marty Byrde's bar and grill said his business was busy all holiday weekend but enforcing social distancing and controlling the crowd was difficult at times. 

Boyles said businesses were put in a tough spot when it came to enforcing social distancing and limiting customers during the holiday weekend as most groups were families or a large group of friends together. 

Boyles said you can't control your customers like you can control your staff even if you are following the rules.

"Obviously," Boyles said. "Holiday weekend, you're gonna get a lot of families to come down so we're doing our best we can. Yes, but it's hard to tell somebody. 'Hey, you can't come in with more people.' So it's tough puts us in a tough spot."

Boyles said he and other businesses are trying to do their best to follow the rules and to keep their business rolling or just surviving as losing the first few weeks of the season will be tough to regain. 

With Lake of the Ozarks and Osage Beach receiving national attention to the lack of social distancing that was followed this weekend, Olivarri said he wouldn't have scripted this way.

Olivarri said it's not the kind of image that he wants to be projecting, at least from a pandemic guideline and punishment standpoint, but he said social distancing enforcement is a two edged sword.

"It is the responsibility," Olivarri said. "I believe, of our guests who are down here who come down here, you know, to know. I mean it this is not a new situation. So, wherever they come from, whether it be you know in state or out of state. They have a lot of the very same guidelines and in some cases, you know, much more strict than what we have.”

Boyles said he and other business owners are worried that the national attention could affect whether or not businesses could remain open. 

Olivarri said that last weekend of April brought many people to the lake and Camden County had no new cases after that, but Olivarri said he is concerned about what may be left at the lake this time and what the impact may be on workers.

Olivarri said if cases increase after this weekend he would ask: "Are cases going to go up, because they came to the Lake of the Ozarks? And, did anyone go anywhere else during that period of time?"

Olivarri said some of those answers should come out in the social tracking, and if cases do increase and they receive answers to those questions Osage Beach will use that kind of information to help what might come in for Fourth of July weekend.

Olivarri said the Osage Beach does not have any plans to makes its own regulations moving forward as they plan to continue following the governors order.

Camden / Coronavirus / Lake of the Ozarks / Mid-Missouri Business / Missouri / Osage / Video
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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


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