Coronavirus: Chainsmokers concert investigated after crowds 'ignore social distancing rules'

July 28, 2020

A charity concert headlined by The Chainsmokers is being investigated after crowds were accused of ignoring social distancing rules. 

The Safe and Sound gig was held in Southampton, New York, over the weekend and was intended to be a drive-in event with space for about 600 cars.

But authorities launched an investigation after videos from the concert showed a large crowd apparently gathered in close proximity.

One of the clips appeared to be filmed from the stage and showed some of the crowd bouncing up and down.

State governor Andrew Cuomo said he was "appalled" by the footage, adding that there were "egregious social distancing violations".

New York has been one of the states worst-hit by America's COVID-19 outbreak, recording more coronavirus-related deaths than any other.

Saturday night's concert was the first in a series planned by main organisers In The Know Experiences, aiming to raise money for local charities helping with the response to the pandemic.

Tickets cost up to $25,000 (£19,400), according to Billboard, and the proceeds will go to several local charities - including the Children's Medical Fund of New York.

In a post on their website, organisers said: "We are excited about this opportunity as with the current situation in the country people do want to get out of their homes and experience things that they are used to experiencing, but doing them in the RIGHT & SAFE way."

Electronic duo The Chainsmokers headlined the gig, supported by Goldman Sachs Group boss David Solomon - under his stage name DJ D-Sol - and Southampton town supervisor Jay Schneiderman's own band.

Mr Solomon, who performed for an hour, said in an interview with Bloomberg: "The group that put this together did an incredible job in a difficult environment."

The organisers said they had worked with state and local health officials to keep people safe - but New York's state health commissioner is among those who have criticised the event.

Howard Zucker said he was "greatly disturbed" in a formal letter of inquiry to Mr Schneiderman.

He said the concert had "involved thousands of people in close proximity, out of their vehicles, a VIP area where there was no pretence of a vehicle, and generally not adhering to social distancing guidance".

"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 health threat," Mr Zucker added, according to a copy of the letter seen by Newsday.

Mr Schneiderman said he had not seen the letter, but acknowledged that "aspects of the event violated the permit".

He said a VIP area had been opened that was not approved by the town.

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A spokesperson for In The Know Experiences said there were dividers separating groups in the front viewing area and security guards to enforce mask wearing, according to a statement provided to Buzzfeed News.

They also said concert-goers had their temperatures checked at the entrance, while hand sanitiser and masks were made readily available.

Representatives for The Chainsmokers could not immediately be reached for comment.

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