Maskless Shopping Event Draws Scrutiny

Photo courtesy Freehold Raceway Mall

FREEHOLD – A “Maskless Shopping Event” announced at the Freehold Raceway Mall is spreading through social media, and state authorities said they are investigating it.

  A flyer advertising the event called for it to take place on Saturday, March 27. One version cited the organizers as Patriot Party NJ, online sources said. 

  A reporter asked about the event at a press conference on March 24, where Gov. Phil Murphy and Col. Patrick Callahan of the NJ State Police said they were aware of the issue.

  Murphy called it a “ridiculous flyer” that he was “extremely unhappy” about it.

  The governor said that it puts retail employees in a difficult, possibly unsafe position.

  “They’re not law enforcement,” Murphy said of the workers who have been enforcing mask protocols. He said it was wrong “to put them in a position to make the guy or gal at the door (confront) some knucklehead who’s trying to make a political statement” and perhaps risk either a physical confrontation or losing a customer during a time when businesses are struggling.

  Callahan said the State Police and other authorities on down to the local department are aware of it. This included the State Department of Homeland Security.

  Freehold Police told various news outlets that they have been in touch with mall security and have received numerous calls about this.

  A local resident asked the Freehold Mall on Facebook if they knew about the “superspreader event” that was planned.

  The Freehold Raceway Mall responded “This is an unsanctioned event. Please be aware that Freehold Raceway Mall is a private property and enforces a Code of Conduct as well as all state and local health and safety orders. That said, masks are required to visit the mall and we also ask that everyone respects the individual store and restaurant policies that require masks as well. We are in close communication with law enforcement in regards to this event.”

  Currently, stores are limited to 50% capacity and face masks are required for all.