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'Egregious' social distancing violations at Hamptons concert, Cuomo says

chainsmokers concert social distancing
Posted at 9:43 AM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 17:50:09-04

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — The state Health Department is investigating a concert that was held in the Hamptons over the weekend after a video posted to Twitter showed a massive crowd not social distancing.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared the video on Twitter Monday night, calling the gathering and lack of social distancing “egregious.”

“I am appalled,” the governor said. “We have no tolerance for the illegal [and] reckless endangerment of public health.”

The crowd had gathered for a Chainsmokers concert in Southampton on Saturday that was billed as a drive-in charity event, although dozens of people could be seen standing in front of the stage. Goldman Sachs' CEO and the Southampton town supervisor also performed.

The state is conducting an investigation into why the town issued a permit for the event.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said Tuesday that his office is working with state health officials and that the event organizers have been cited for violating the terms of the permit.

The attendees were not supposed to leave the area near their respective cars unless they were using the restroom but shortly after 10 p.m., after Schneiderman left the event, the organizers began to let people congregate in front of the stage, the supervisor said.

As many as 200 people are estimated to have crowded in front of the stage, according to Schneiderman.

"That was not a part of the permit. We would never have allowed that," he said. "We are investigating the matter. There’s no doubt that there will be violations issued, and we will hold the organizer accountable for what happened there.”

The permit allowed for 500 cars with up to four people per car, for a total of about 2,000 attendees. However, it's estimated there were as many as 3,000 people at the event.

Schneiderman said more citations and violations may be issued as the investigation continues.

"We’re all looking for safe ways to live our lives, to socialize," he said of the decision to allow the concert despite the coronavirus pandemic. “Had they followed the permit, I think it would have been a safe event.”

The town supervisor's office has asked the organizers to identify the people who were in that area so they can be tested for COVID-19.

The investigation comes amid a state-level crackdown on social distancing violations, mainly focused on bars and restaurants, in an attempt to keep New York's coronavirus numbers down.

Over 130 violations were issued to establishments in New York City and on Long Island from Friday through Sunday, according to Cuomo. Forty establishments have had their licenses suspended by the State Liquor Authority because of repeated social distancing violations.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.