Legion at the Lake: Crowds pack Lake of the Ozarks amid pandemic

Photo courtesy: Scott Pasmore
Photo courtesy: Scott Pasmore(KY3)
Published: May. 24, 2020 at 8:55 PM CDT
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OSAGE BEACH, Mo. - It’s business per usual at the Lake of the Ozarks as resorts, bars, restaurants and tourist attractions stay busy with out-of-towners vacationing over Memorial Day weekend.

For Scott Pasmore, the lake isn't just a vacation spot, it's like a second home.

"Since kindergarten, I've been coming here. It's one of my favorite places in the country to come," said Scott Pasmore.

That's why the fear of COVID-19 didn't scare him from coming to his favorite getaway.

"It all boils down to what you do for your own safety," said Pasmore.

He’s not the only one braving travel. Thousands are also here for the holiday weekend.

“I was at Backwater Jack’s,” said Pasmore. “My buddy said ‘I heard this place was packed, so lets go by and check it out.’ We pull in there walk through a crowd go upstairs, and go look over to a pool, and absolutely packed. We went up on a deck, I thought it would be safer and I shot this video.”

In fact, the video he shot over the weekend went viral on social media. Making national headlines, drawing harsh criticism and sparking a debate about whether or not businesses are opening up too soon.

Pasmore said, while at Backwater Jack’s, he didn’t see anyone practicing social distancing, wearing masks or taking additional precautions.

“People want to get out and live their lives,” said Pasmore. “I think they’re ready, but I still think you have to be smart about it.”

In a Facebook post, Gary Prewitt, the owner of on Backwater Jack’s, said the bar didn’t break any laws.

“No laws were broken. Social distancing is not a crime. As stated by the Camden County Sheriff: “Camden County is a tourism-driven ecomony and each business is working hard to follow the state’s guidelines and protect their patrons and staff. Those who frequented the businesses, bars, and restaurants at the lake this weekend made a conscious decision to attend each event and frequent each location. It was the right and responsibility of each individual who made those decisions to access the risks inherent to those decisions.”

The post adds that non-contact thermal checks were conducted and “anyone with above a 100.4 [degrees Fahrenheit] temperature was refused entry.” It also says “personal bottles of FDA-approved hand sanitizer were made available for free to all attendees” while “all staff were given a choice of whether they wanted to work without any negative consequences if they chose not to.”

Prewitt said he and Backwater Jacks management understand there are many emotions and feelings on every side of the pandemic situation. His management team stood by the decision to hold its Memorial Day Weekend plans.

Viewers also informed KY3 of large Memorial Day weekend gatherings at Dog Days Bar and Grill in Osage Beach.