A drive-in charity concert in the Hamptons headlined by The Chainsmokers has drawn criticism and a state investigation after videos showed a large crowd of concertgoers failing to socially distance.
The July 25 event in Water Mill, New York, was designed so that attendees could watch the show from inside their vehicles or in designated areas beside them. Their temperatures were checked on arrival, they were provided with face masks and instructed not to leave the 20-by-20-foot spots except to use restrooms, event organisers In The Know Experiences and Invisible Noise said in a statement to Billboard. Security guards patrolled the event to promote social distancing, the organisers added.
However, viral footage appeared to show a sizeable gathering of people disregarding those rules as they assembled in front of the stage for the DJ set, setting off a firestorm of criticism online over the blatant disregard for public health advice as coronavirus cases surge around the country.
Roughly 2,000 people were estimated to have attended the concert, BuzzFeed News reported.
The benefit concert was held to raise money for charities including No Kid Hungry, Southampton Fresh Air Home and the Children’s Medical Fund of New York. Tickets ranged from $850 to $25,000 for a VIP package.
“The video that everyone is talking about was taken from an angle that doesn’t properly convey how careful we were to follow the guidelines created by the CDC,” organisers claimed in a statement. “We did everything in our power to enforce New York’s social distancing guidelines and collaborated with all state and local health officials to keep everyone safe.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted Monday that he was “appalled” by the “egregious social distancing violations” depicted in the video.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a letter to Southhampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman that his department would conduct an investigation into the event. Zucker said he was “greatly disturbed” to learn that the concert “involved thousands of people in close proximity, out of their vehicles, a VIP area where there was no pretense of a vehicle, and generally not adhering to social distancing guidance.”
“I am at a loss as to how the Town of Southhampton could have issued a permit for such an event, how they believed it was legal and not an obvious public health threat.”