Katherine Hermes likely figured she was in the clear.
Amid New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s coronavirus shutdown, which closed her nonessential business, Hermes conducted a shop-from-home-style Facebook Live sale Tuesday evening inside her Country Home store in downtown Bernardsville, New Jersey News12 reported.
The only other person in the store was a friend of Hermes helping her out with the sale. What could go wrong?
The long arm of the law
Well, nearly two hours into the proceedings an officer showed up saying there were complaints about the store being open past 8 p.m. and that Hermes and her friend weren’t wearing masks.
The confrontation was captured on the Facebook Live video. The action begins at the 1:56 mark:
Hermes debated with the officer, telling him she felt “totally picked on right now. … You guys are picking on me because I’m trying to feed my kids, my store has been closed, I had a little fresh air, I’m not open, I’m doing a [Facebook] Live, I’ve done this time and time again, and now people are just picking on me.”
The officer simply invoked Murphy’s executive order and said that despite her store being closed to the public, she can’t be operating inside it after 8 p.m.
‘I was defiant’
Hermes actually defied the governor’s shutdown order when she opened her doors to customers last Saturday, News12 said.
“I was defiant, and the police chief was very respectful, and I understand what he’s saying, and he understands what I’m saying,” she added to the station. “It’s a difficult situation for everybody. But we have flattened the curve. The crisis is over.”
Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine told New12 that Hermes was warned once and that on Tuesday an officer saw a customer inside the store — but Hermes told the station that the customer was there only to pick up an item.
The chief added to News 12 that a complaint was filed against Hermes and sent to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office for having a customer inside the store.
Whatever comes of this latest episode, Hermes told the station that even when nonessential businesses are allowed to reopen, her financial losses to date are too much to overcome.
“I’m closing,” she told News12. “I don’t know that I can be out of here by the end of this month, but I will be out of here by the end of next month. … We can’t take disease[s] away. We can hate them, but we can’t make them go away, and we can’t legislate them away by destroying businesses.”