99-Year-Old in New Jersey Charged After Attending Party During State Ban on Gatherings

April 3, 2020 Updated: April 3, 2020

A 99-year-old man and nine others were charged in New Jersey with violating the state’s ban on gatherings aimed at stemming the spread of CCP virus, officials said.

The group was celebrating an engagement in Lakewood, New Jersey, on Tuesday, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and police Chief Gregory Meyer said in a news release.

The couple hosting the party was also charged with six counts of child endangerment, one count for each of their six minor children who were at the celebration, the prosecutor’s office said.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a statewide “stay at home” order March 21 that prohibits all gatherings, such as celebrations.

“Can’t believe I have to say this at all, let alone for the second time,” the governor wrote on Twitter last weekend. “But here we are. NO CORONA PARTIES. They’re illegal, dangerous, and stupid. We will crash your party. You will pay a big fine. And we will name & shame you until EVERYONE gets this message into their heads.”

The governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy places the first bet.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy places the first bet at the William Hill Sports Book at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., on June 14, 2018. (Kotinsky/Getty Images for William Hill Race & Sports Bar )

The engagement party isn’t the first to be broken up by authorities in the state.

Last week, the New Jersey Attorney General issued a statement emphasizing that those who violate the emergency order will face criminal charges.

In the news release, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal cited three recent examples where police charged individuals for holding prohibited gatherings, including a house party in Penns Grove, New Jersey, and two large gatherings in Lakewood.

Almost 93 percent of the U.S. population—in at least 40 states and Washington—is under a stay-at-home order that is in effect or scheduled to go into effect, according to a CNN count, which is tallied using U.S. census data.

Authorities around the country are cracking down on violations as the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, continues to spread rapidly.

In Tampa, Florida, a pastor was arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and a violation of health emergency rules after hosting a service at a large church. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has since exempted religious services from the ban, deeming them an essential service.

New Jersey has at least 25,590 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, as of Thursday evening, including 537 deaths, according to CNN’s latest tally of U.S. cases. Nationwide, there are at least 238,820 infected, 5,758 deaths, and 9,311 recovered.

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