Amid the coronavirus pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is "appalled" over the "egregious social distancing violations" he saw in videos of The Chainsmokers' concert on Saturday.
UPDATE: The concert promoter involved in organizing The Chainsmokers' controversial July concert is facing a $20,000 fine for violating New York's public health orders.
Governor Andrew Cuomo stated in a press release that "In the Know Experiences" held a non-essential gathering and failed to enforce mask wearing.
"The Chainsmokers concert promoter is charged today with violating an Executive Order and Section 16 of the Public Health Law," Governor Cuomo's statement read. "As I said immediately following reports of this event, it was an egregious violation of the critical public health measures we have had in place since the beginning of this pandemic to protect New Yorkers from COVID-19. We will continue to hold people and businesses accountable for their actions and the local governments must enforce the rules or else we will hold them accountable as well."
Get more details on the incident below.
The Chainsmokers' latest concert is under fire after attendees appeared to be a lot closer than they should have been.
On Saturday, the musical duo was the headliner for the Safe & Sound Drive-In Concert Fundraiser held in Water Mill, New York. While the event was promoted as a coronavirus-conscious one, with sponsor JAJA Tequila promising attendees a designated area of space to park their cars, footage of the event that emerged on social media painted a much less socially distant picture.
One video, shared by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, showed a vast crowd of people gathered together below the DJ booth. "Videos from a concert held in Southampton on Saturday show egregious social distancing violations," Cuomo tweeted. "I am appalled."
"The Department of Health will conduct an investigation," he continued. "We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health."
According to a letter penned on Monday and obtained by E! News, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker told Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman that he is "greatly disturbed by reports concerning the 'drive-in' concert held in your town this past weekend, which apparently involved thousands of people in close proximity, out of their vehicles, a VIP area where there wa no pretense of a vehicle, and general not adhering to social distancing guidance."
Zucker continued, "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."
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Zucker noted in his letter that the Governor's Executive Orders barred non-essential gathering in excess of 50 people until August 20. He also asked Schneiderman a series of questions, including whether a pemit for the concert was issued, and if so, how was it "consistent with applicable state regulations and laws relative to COVID-19?"
"Please be advised that all responses to these questions, are a submission to a state department conducting an investigation," he concluded his letter. "Any submission will be deemed to be a sworn statement. I look forward to your response."
While they have no publicly commented, E! News has reached out to The Chainsmokers' rep for comment.
Event organizers In The Know Experiences and Invisible Noise issued a statement on the matter, explaining the precautions that were taken to prevent the spread of the virus at the event.
"The Safe & Sound drive-in concert fundraiser followed the guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made best efforts to ensure New York's social distancing guidelines were properly maintained throughout the event. We collaborated with all state and local health officials to keep everyone safe, create awareness for local businesses, provide work to over 350 people who have been unemployed as a result of the pandemic and to bring some joy into people's lives during these difficult times," the statement read.
"The event also raised money for No Kid Hungry, Southampton Fresh Air Home and Children's Medical Fund of New York. Prior to the event, all guests were instructed to self-monitor their temperature daily for two weeks leading up to the event, maintaining a temperature below 99.5° F (37.5° C). Additionally, they were asked to disclose if they tested positive for COVID-19 or if they were in contact with anyone who tested positive within the last two weeks. Upon arrival, individuals within each car had their temperatures taken and were also provided complimentary face masks before driving to their designated 20' x 20' spot."
The organizers further described the procedures that were put in place for the event. "Guests were also instructed that they would not be allowed to leave their designed spots for any reason other than to use the restroom facilities. Announcements and reminders were made every 30 minutes from the main stage, and security guards regularly patrolled the area to encourage mask wearing and promote social distancing guidelines," the statement noted.
"The event organizers followed all proper and current protocol, including spacing each spot more than six feet apart, positioning sanitizing stations throughout the open grounds, temperature checks for all attendees, sanitization of restrooms every 10 minutes, local security enforcing guests to wear their masks both in and out of their designated areas, contact tracing, clearly marked parking zones, as well as providing complimentary face masks upon arrival."
In regard to videos of the event sparking disapproval, organizers said, "The criticism based on a two second video does not accurately depict the entire event. This video is misleading based on the angle and the lighting in which it was shot. The clip shows footage of the Chainsmokers friends and family section, which was separated by stanchions and metal barricades, each section limited to no more than 10 people max."
(This story was originally published on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 8:58 a.m. PST)
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