NJ Gov. Murphy speaks out after restaurant showdown over masks, coronavirus restrictions

Confrontation comes as New Jersey restaurant industry suffers significant economic loss amid coronavirus restrictions

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is speaking out after he and his family were confronted by a group of people while eating dinner at a restaurant in his state, a video shared on social media shows.

Murphy on Tuesday told "CBS This Morning,"  just days after hecklers shouted expletives at him and his family during dinner, that he understands that people are experiencing "exceptionally high" levels of stress.

“There’s no reason we should have to be having a political discussion about whether or not you’re wearing a mask. We were dining outdoors in the middle of our meal,” he told the morning show's co-host, Gayle King. Murphy added that he and his wife have thick skin and “could take it,” but added: “I’d prefer folks to be more civil and to leave our kids out of this.”

The Democratic governor was seen on video sitting with his wife, Tammy; their three sons, and their daughter, when at least two women approached and confronted him, according to a video of the encounter.

Murphy and his family, who were not wearing masks at the time, were not only seated but eating at the time of the confrontation. He told reporters on Monday that he and his family were dining outdoors in Red Bank, N.J. during the Saturday night incident. 

“Oh my God, Murphy, you are such a d---,” one woman reportedly tells him. 

Democratic then-gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy with his wife and children after voting on election day November 7, 2017 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

Democratic then-gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy with his wife and children after voting on election day November 7, 2017 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

Tammy Murphy then whispers something in her husband’s ear as another woman cuts in.

“You havin’ fun with your family in the meantime you’re havin’ all kind of other bulls--- goin’ on?” the woman says.

When one of the governor’s sons asks the woman if she’s drunk, she denies it. When he asks her if she can wear a mask, she responds: “You can go f--- yourself, how’s that?”

“You know why I don’t need a mask?" the woman continues. “Because there ain’t nothin’ f----- wrong with me.”

Gov. Phil Murphy at an event in Blackwood, N.J., on Oct. 21, 2020. (New Jersey Office of the Governor via AP, File)

Gov. Phil Murphy at an event in Blackwood, N.J., on Oct. 21, 2020. (New Jersey Office of the Governor via AP, File)

As the conversation continues, Murphy places his mask over his face and his wife appears to begin recording the group.

When asked about the hecklers on Monday, Murphy said nothing had happened to prompt the two women to approach him. And the pair left after a third person from their group pushed them away. 

"I'm a big boy, I have thick skin. It doesn't impact me at all and I think I can say the same thing for my wife," he said during an unrelated press conference. "I would say this though: our kids are not part of that ... and I don't even know who these people were, by the way."

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Murphy has faced backlash recently over his stringent novel coronavirus-related restrictions and limitations as the holidays approach.

Just last week, Town of Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick said his department “will not accept nor respond to any report of a facial covering/mask, social distancing or indoor/outdoor gathering complaint.”

“By no means is this a defiance to the Governor’s orders as I do believe we all have to do our part to end this pandemic,” Kudrick wrote. “However, we the police will not be used to carry out orders I feel are detrimental to our relationship with our community. Or, will put officers in a no-win predicament such as being called for a social distancing or mask complaint. Although justified in our enforcement, the perception will be the opposite and majority support will be lacking.”

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Kudrick said the police department would only “consider a response” when receiving reports of “packed” house parties.

On "Fox & Friends Weekend" Kudrick called Murphy's guidelines "draconian."

“Our community is hurting,” he said. “I live here. I grew up here. I shop here. I go out to dinner here. And I talk one-on-one with our business owners … and I see how much they’re hurting.”

“So as a police chief, in charge of 100-plus police officers, I felt it was just incumbent upon me just to let them know, and let my community know, that we’re not going to enforce some of these executive orders which I feel are basically draconian,” he added.

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Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom came under fire after he was seen without a mask sitting closely with others in a group in the state, where he was attending a birthday party for one of his advisers. He later admitted he needs “to preach and practice, not just preach.”

Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser was in hot water for flouting her own state quarantine list after traveling from Delaware. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was also criticized after she shared a video celebrating election results in a crowd of people without wearing a mask.

Fox News's Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.