The New York State Department of Health is launching an investigation into the “Safe & Sound” concert which took place July 25 in the Hamptons for health code violations regarding social distancing, The New York Times reported. The event — which was advertised as a “Drive-in music experience” and included a performance from the electronic duo The Chainsmokers — faced heavy backlash after multiple videos surfaced showing attendees not following social distancing guidelines.
The news comes as the debate between pro- and anti-mask Americans continues to heat up, including many corporations now requiring facial coverings and distancing in an effort to combat COVID-19.
The state’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, wrote a letter to the Southhampton supervisor in charge of the location where the event occurred, expressing his frustration.
“I am at a loss as to how the Town of Southampton could have issued a permit for such an event, how they believed it was legal and not an obvious public health threat”
That supervisor, Jay Schneiderman — who was also listed as a performer that night before The Chainsmokers set — admitted that certain aspects of the evening did indeed violate the permit they received.
“They opened up a VIP area that was not part of the concert,” he said, before claiming he would never have allowed a gathering location had he known about it in advance.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also chimed in on Twitter, calling out what he considered “egregious social distancing violations” and vowed the Department of Health will be conducting an investigation into what happened.
“We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health,” the Democrat concluded.
The promoters, In The Know Experiences and Invisible Noise, defended their actions in a statement which claimed temperature checks were done and that concert-goers were assigned designated areas six feet part from one another.
“Security guards regularly patrolled the area to encourage mask wearing and promote social-distancing guidelines.”
The Chainsmokers had a “Drive-in” concert last night.
No social-distancing during a pandemic. We may be doomed…pic.twitter.com/rreahTaK0p
— Rex Chapman???????? (@RexChapman) July 27, 2020
Buzzfeed News interviewed a number of Chainsmokers fans who attended the concert. They defended the experience, telling the outlet they felt safe throughout the evening and that people were keeping their distance.
“Everyone was social-distancing and being responsible,” Jamie Books, a resident of Southampton, said.
“We had an amazing time and hope to see more events like this.”
But with an estimated 2,000 people at the event, close personal contact was inevitable. After videos surfaced across the internet showing the large crowds, the criticism was almost immediate. While it was billed as a “drive-in” experience where fans would listen to the music at their respective vehicles, the pit area immediately in front of the stage was shown to be flooded with people during The Chainsmokers set, a scene reminiscent of a pre-coronavirus concert.
The Chainsmokers, New York natives themselves, were listed as headliners on a night that also featured a DJ set from Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon under the moniker “DJ D-Sol.”