As we enter our sixth month of battling the global pandemic, much of the world has shut down in an attempt to keep the coronavirus from spreading further. In the United States, where the rates of infection continue to rise even as medical professionals do their best to contain the disease, practicing social distancing is still proving to be a problem — even a pandemic can't stop some people from continuing to do whatever they want, including attending a packed Chainsmokers concert in the former epicenter of the coronavirus.
On Saturday, more than 2,000 music fans headed to the Hamptons to pretend like life was normal by turning up to electronic music duo The Chainsmokers and a number of other musical acts. The concert was described as the "first-ever drive-in music fundraiser," and the ticket proceeds went to local charities.
The gathering caught the attention of New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who has become one of the country's loudest voices in the efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus after the state was forced to mandate strict lockdown measures. Suffice to say, the governor was pissed.
"Videos from a concert held in Southampton on Saturday show egregious social distancing violations," tweeted Governor Cuomo on Monday, his stern message accompanying a video from the music event showing a crowd of fans enjoying the festivities.
"I am appalled. The Department of Health will conduct an investigation," he wrote. "We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health."
But In the Know Experiences, the organizers of the benefit concert, are pushing back against claims that the event violated state-mandated social distancing protocol. Actually, the organizers told Billboard, the concert attendees followed very specific rules. Before they were able to purchases tickets to the event, guests were required to fill out an online form about their health history. Upon arriving at the concert, attendees had their temperatures taken and were given free face masks. They were also grouped in specific areas and discouraged from moving about.
"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," read an official statement from the organizers. "'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."
Attendees are backing up those claims, sharing that the venue put up some kind of barrier inside the pit to keep the crowd as separated as possible. "Everyone was social-distancing and being responsible," said one Southhampton resident who attended the event.
"There were a ton of security guards making sure people weren't leaving their designated areas," added another concertgoer. "[I] felt very safe and it was a ton of fun."
New Yorkers, we're not in the clear yet — Governor Cuomo has his eye on you.