Toms River Mayor shames local businesses for mitigating the spread of COVID-19

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Photo by Art Gallagher, secretary to Mayor Maurice "Mo" Hill.

TOMS RIVER, NJ – As many cities across New Jersey are imposing indoor mask mandates, in Toms River, it’s the opposite. Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill has forced a business to change a misleading “masks required” sign, according to Hill spokesman Art Gallagher.

The Mayor was out and about this weekend yelling at local businesses who were imposing mask mandates to their customers.

Hill, who tested positive last week for COVID-19 said he was upset with a sign at the local Lowes home improvement center on Hooper Avenue and demanded the business change it.

“Mayor Hill was asked about the “requirement” by several residents who saw a sign at the entrance to Lowes on Hooper Avenue which stated, “In accordance with local ordinances you are required to wear a mask or face covering while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.” There are no such ordinances in Toms River,” Gallagher said in a statement.

“I don’t favor mandates,” Hill said. “Our citizens are responsible and can make their own choices.”

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Mayor Hill allegedly visited the Lowes store on Saturday to ask the manager to remove the inaccurate sign and found that it had already been taken down. The manager explained that they had gotten a phone call alerting them to the fact that there was no local mask mandate.

Hill took the incident to remind Toms River residents and visitors that he prefers customers to not wear masks while shopping in his town, because it’s not mandated, earning him a potential ‘knucklehead’ call out by Governor Phil Murphy. Hill added, that there are no local ordinances in Toms River requiring facemasks in stores.

The Mayor then drove south to lash out at the local Chipotle restaurant for wanting contactless payments from its customers to mitigate the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant.

Gallagher said Hill also visited the Chipotle restaurant on Hooper Avenue after receiving a citizen complaint that the store had a sign posted which said they were only accepting “contactless payment” due to a local ordinance.

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Despite the businesses requiring face masks, the mayor refused to wear one during his visits.

“The mayor found a sign posted which stated that only credit card payments were being accepted due to “instructions from local authorities.” The manager explained that the store was only accepting credit cards due to the coin shortage impacting many businesses throughout the country and that it had nothing to do with “local authorities.” The manager agreed to change the sign at the mayor’s request,” Gallagher said in a statement posted to the township’s Facebook page.