While State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan regarded the “exceptional” compliance among residents in the Garden State during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still hundreds that continue to defy orders.
To show they mean business, authorities suspended the liquor license of the Post Time Pub in Blairstown, who twice ignored orders to shut down despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive orders to do so.
On Friday, the pub agreed to a 45-day suspension after state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control filed an issuance to Billings Inc., the holder of the liquor license, to show cause as to why their license should not be suspended. The suspension retroactively went into effect on April 17.
The suspension remains in effect as the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control still intends to seek a permanent revocation of the pub’s liquor license.
The pub’s owner, Joyce Billings, 59, of the Columbia section of Knowlton Township, was first charged on March 27 with obstruction and again on April 2 with an indictable offense for violating Murphy’s March 21 order closing non-essential businesses.
Grewal, in a release last week, said that liquor license holders who flout the take-out only rule by allowing patrons to go inside their establishments and linger “are breaking the law and putting themselves, their customers and all New Jerseyans at risk.”
“To any other businesses, let this be a warning that it is no longer business as usual and we will seek compliance by bringing both criminal charges and by seeking revocation of their licenses when necessary,” he added.
The Post Time Pub remains open for take-out and delivery of food only.
In a Facebook post Sunday night, the bar was offering a lobster meal for Monday night to-go or via delivery. The post stated “absolutely no alcohol sales” and “no dining on premises.”
The post was a stark difference from one they posted on March 20, where they stated: “Here’s the best part while you wait for your food to go grab yourself a cocktail, beer or a wine in a Togo cup with a lid and enjoy it on our porch.”
Murphy’s shutdown went into effect the next day.
As part of their argument to show cause, the state Office of the Attorney General referred to police reports by Blairstown Officer Joseph Beach:
Around 8 p.m. on March 27, Beach went to the Post Time Pub and found patrons at the pub drinking outside and at the bar drinking inside. Billings (the owner) was behind the bar and told the officer that she thought she was allowed to have five patrons inside the establishment.
Around 6:30 p.m. on April 2, the same officer observed a nearly identical situation at the bar.
The state Office of the Attorney General also announced Friday the arrest of a 40-year-old Lafayette man who was charged for opening his vape shop.
Sadik Kocaoglu was charged on April 23 by the Parsippany Police Department for opening his shop, Puff City on Route 46 West, in violation of the statewide emergency orders. Kocaoglu was previously warned, but police later found customers in the shop purchasing vape products, the state’s attorney general stated.
A violation of the emergency orders is a disorderly persons offense, carrying a sentence of up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
As of Monday, there were 111,188 reported cases of COVID-19 in the state. The virus has led to the death of 6,044 residents statewide.
Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.