Crowds pack pool bar at Lake of the Ozarks amid pandemic

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OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (KYTV/Gray News) - It's business per usual at the Lake of the Ozarks as resorts, bars, restaurants and tourist attractions stayed busy with out-of-towners vacationing over Memorial Day Weekend.

Photo courtesy: Scott Pasmore

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," Pasmore said.

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," he said.

He's not the only one braving travel. Thousands arrived to the area for the holiday weekend.

"I was at Backwater Jack's," Pasmore said. "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 (it's) absolutely packed. We went up on a deck, I thought it would be safer, and I shot this video."

The Phoenix news anchor's video went viral on social media. It made national headlines, drawing harsh criticism and sparking a debate about whether businesses are opening up too soon.

Pasmore said, while at Backwater Jack's, he didn't see anyone practicing social distancing.

"People want to live their lives, and they're ready, but I think they need to be smart about it," he said.

This comes nearly three weeks after Missouri lifted its stay-at-home order and eased various restrictions in response to COVID-19.

Missouri is currently under Phase 1 of its reopening plan, the "Show Me Strong Recovery Order," through May 31, which states in part:

"When individuals leave their homes or places of residence to work, to access food, health care, necessities, or to engage in other activities, they should at all times practice social distancing. Individuals may go to and from an individual’s place of worship, provided that limitations on social distancing are properly adhered to."

Viewers also submitted user-generated content to KY3 that showed large gatherings at Dog Days Bar and Grill in Osage Beach.

KY3 reached out to several of the resorts, bars and pools for a comment. The businesses declined an interview or didn't answer.

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