SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A charity concert on Long Island meant to be a safe drive-in experience is now under investigation.

Viral videos show crowds violating social distancing, and it caught the attention of the governor.

A view from the stage Saturday shows crowds gathering to see the Chainsmokers headlining a drive-in concert series called “Safe & Sound.”

But from this video, it looks hardly pandemic safe with no social distancing.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded off Tuesday.

“The concert that happened in the town of Southampton was just a gross violation of not only the public health rules, it was a gross violation of common sense. It was grossly disrespectful to fellow New Yorkers,” he said.

The concert was scheduled for Saturday from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at a site on Millstone Road in Bridgehampton.

Musical talent included Jay Schneiderman & Friends (Southampton Town Supervisor), DJ D-Sol (David Solomon) and the headliner, the Chainsmokers.

According to the permit, “The event shall be conducted in compliance with all Federal, New York State, Suffolk County and Southampton Town health and social distancing protocols in effect at the time of the event.”

“The town of Southampton is going to have a problem, I don’t know how they approved that permit … this is a law, there is a civil penalty, there is a criminal penalty,” Cuomo said.

In a letter, the department of health warned Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman of an investigation demanding he answer questions, including if a permit was issued.

Schneiderman shared the permit Tuesday, which approved for a total of 2,000 people in 600 cars, plus staff.

The town supervisor also performed at the charity event, which according to the permit raised money for Southampton Fresh Air Home and No Kid Hungry. He says he left around 10 p.m., before the viral moments, calling out the organizers who have been cited.

“The organizer had no right to allow people to gather in front of that stage, that was a clear violation of he permit and we are investigating, as well,” Schneiderman said. “I don’t know that anyone’s more upset than I am that they violated the permit.”

Schneiderman said the concert was shut down at 10:30 p.m. He estimated about 200 people crowded in front of the stage.

“It’s really unfortunate, I completely regret this happened, I wish it hadn’t. It shouldn’t have happened. The organizer is, it needs to own this and be accountable, figure out who was in that pit, get everyone tested and make sure that this doesn’t contribute to any spread of COVID-19,” he said.


A representative for those behind the concert, In The Know Experiences and Invisible Noise, released a statement saying they followed safety protocols and CDC guidelines:

“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 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.

“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 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.”

Brian Mullane, an essential worker, was at the event with his family and says he personally had a safe experience.

“There might be a few bad apples, I don’t want to discount a possibility because I can’t say for certain, but all and all, my job depends on it, I felt very safe,” he told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.

He said with their tickets, they got hand sanitizer and masks, and there was also security enforcing face coverings.

“As far as I saw, there was everything provided to maintain the guidelines,” he said.

CBS2 reached out to the Southampton Town Police Department. It did not issue any violations that evening but said it is looking to follow up with possible citations.

From town to state investigations, it appears there’s more to come on this.


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