After Paterson Police closed down two illegal clubs over the weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy had a blunt warning Monday for other restaurants and bars who ignore the state's emergency directives amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said that on Friday night, the city police department closed down Akimekedo Restaurant on Main Street, after it had reopened past the statewide 10 p.m. curfew for indoor dining.

Officers found alcohol being served without a license to a crowd of about 20 people, as well as hookah pipes lined up near burning charcoal on a kitchen counter and a DJ playing music, according to Speziale.

Then on Saturday night, music coming from a strip mall at the intersection of Park Avenue and Carroll Street brought police to find a similar, illegal after-hours club, serving beer and liquor without a license, according to Speziale.

Summonses were issued to individuals in both cases, as reported by Paterson Times.

During Monday's state briefing on pandemic response, Murphy said the "overwhelming amount of restaurant owners are doing the right thing," by following protocols to protect staff and patrons, which the governor said is "deeply appreciated."

"We simply will not tolerate those who think the rules are for everyone else but them. And, if you think we will shut you down as we did these two speakeasies were shut down this weekend you are correct," Murphy said.

"You may think this is a game of cat and mouse and and that it's kind of cute but let's be honest it can be deadly," Murphy said. "When you act like a knucklehead you show you don't care about your community. You show you don't care about your customers or your employees. You prove that you only care about yourself."

State Police Superintendent, Col. Patrick Callahan also mentioned the Paterson clubs during Monday's briefing, as well as a restaurant in Camden County's Stratford "with over 50 people inside with 'no social distancing possible' and no masks being worn." He did not disclose the name of that restaurant, but also said that the Brownstone Bar and Grill in Metuchen was issued a summons for a "second violation."

Last week, Jersey City officials shut down the Maritime Parc restaurant at Liberty State Park, which hosted an indoor event attended by more than 65 people.

The New York Young Republican Club outing on Thursday night included guest speaker Rep. Matt Gatz of Florida, whom Murphy called "Matt Putz," while also tweeting "It is beyond the pale that anyone would willingly endanger people in another state."

On Sunday, New Jersey recorded its highest single day coronavirus case total, with 6,046 new positive test results reported and 16 new confirmed deaths.

The state reported another 3,573 new positive cases on Monday and 17 lab-confirmed COVID-19 deaths, with 3,346 coronavirus patients hospitalized.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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