OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — A big weekend led to big crowds at the Lake of the Ozarks. Videos on social media have set off a flood of emotion throughout the state and the country.
Driving into Lake of the Ozarks, a reminder hangs overhead: "Your good health is important! Follow CDC and local health department recommendations."
But if you look at the videos posted on social media, you see people of all ages huddled around swim-up bars, hanging out in large groups.
In photos, you see another banner: "Please practice social distancing — 6 feet apart"
Osage Beach Mayor John Olivarri said he's concerned about these customers, but they knew what they were getting into.
“This is one of our big weekends. Everyone knows that," he said. "So, if people made the conscientious decision to come down here and to participate at whatever level they elect to participate, they have made that decision.”
But he's equally — if not more — concerned about the local workforce.
“Are we going to make everybody happy because we are open? Probably not,” he said. “Do I feel bad that our businesses have opened up and giving our employees the opportunity to go back into work and feed their families? Absolutely not.”
Looking around local businesses Sunday afternoon, most people were keeping a safe physical distance. One business even put up a sign blocking people from coming inside when they were over capacity. But a lot of the people out here are coming from all over the region, so what happens when they return home?
In a statement, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson told 5 On Your Side:
"It's irresponsible and dangerous to engage in such high-risk behavior just to have some fun over the extended holiday weekend. Now, these folks will be going home to St. Louis and counties across Missouri and the Midwest, raising concerns about the potential of more positive cases, hospitalizations, and tragically, deaths."
Mayor Olivarri said it's impossible for them to regulate what customers do.
“Part of the responsibility falls on the individual patron,” he said.
But he does point to this: the weekend before May 1, huge crowds came out for the 80-degree weather. Local coronavirus cases didn't increase, so Olivarri believes the same will happen this time, too.
We reached out to the managers of two bars shown in those videos. They both declined to comment.