New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is criticizing the hosts of a massive gathering outside of the house featured on the show Jersey Shore this week, calling the event an "egregious display of knucklehead behavior."
On Monday, police broke up a gathering of hundreds of people in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, where a group of Canadian YouTubers who call themselves "the Nelk Boys" were hosting a launch party for their website.
In a video shared to Instagram by the social media personalities, police can be seen barricading the crowd.
In the videos, few if any attendees at the gathering were wearing masks, and social distancing measures to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) were not being followed.
During a press conference Wednesday, Murphy denounced the behavior of the partygoers, noting that the event was "irresponsible from top to bottom in every respect," USA Today reported.
"It’s exactly the type of situation we cannot have," Murphy explained. "And these so-called influencers need to be taken to task."
Murphy added that the comedy group, which creates prank videos, "succeeded in getting the notoriety they wanted, but obviously didn't deserve" and showed "willful negligence for public health in a pandemic."
The governor is urging all partygoers to get tested for COVID-19, adding that gatherings like these where people don't wear masks are "how coronavirus spreads most easily."
In New Jersey, outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people are not allowed and people must be socially distanced.
Monday night, the trio showed no remorse for their illegal actions, writing on social media, "The media is a f—— joke. no research so lazy and completely incorrect facts. They comin for the boys now that we takin over."
According to USA Today, police said authorities made eight arrests for disorderly conduct, obstruction, and resisting arrest.
Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz told NBC News that the Nelk Boys will be responsible for police costs incurred from the gathering — which reportedly reached more than a thousand people.
The owner of the Boardwalk house, Daniel Merk, said that he was not expecting the group of YouTubers to attract such a large crowd — and added that he is worried about the ramifications.
Vaz told the outlet that Merk could have his rental license taken away as a result of the event.
"They have a lot of passionate fans and they followed them," Merk told NBC News. "I was not prepared for this. The town was not prepared for this."
Merk added: "There's definitely going to be ramifications from this. I'm definitely going to be in trouble for this."
New Jersey has had nearly 200,000 reported cases of COVID-19, with an average of 401 cases per day over the past week, according to data from the New York Times. There have been more than 16,000 deaths in the state.
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