The organizers of a summer concert featuring The Chainsmokers initially came under fire for welcoming a crowd that was too tightly packed amid restrictions meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Now, New York state wants them to pay up.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that the state had fined In the Know Experiences, the concert promoter involved in the July show in Southampton Town, $20,000 for holding what the state described as a “non-essential gathering” as well as an overall failure to require attendees wear masks.
Video of the “Safe & Sound” benefit concert on July 25 revealed large crowds, prompting Cuomo to share his distress on social media.
“Videos from a concert held in Southampton on Saturday show egregious social distancing violations. I am appalled,” Cuomo tweeted on July 27, saying also, “We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health.”
Cuomo announced the fine on Wednesday during a phone call with reporters. The state has also sanctioned Southampton, meaning the town will not be allowed to approve permits for group gatherings without first earning approval from the state.
CNN reached out to a press contact listed on “In the Know Experiences” website but did not immediately hear back.
Following the show, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker sent a letter to Southhampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman inquiring about the concert and noting that New York was still in a declared state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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 public health threat,” Zucker wrote at the time.
In a phone call with CNN, Schneiderman reaffirmed the town’s commitment “to working hand-in-hand with New York State to keep people safe,” but noted that “the guidance can be confusing.”
“With ‘The Chainsmokers’ concert, the town felt that the permit it issued met all the state’s guidance,” said Schneiderman, adding that he is “waiting for details to learn where the town erred.”
The event page advertised The Chainsmokers-headlined show as a socially distanced drive-in benefit concert that would allow 600 vehicles.
Zucker detailed being “greatly disturbed” by the reports of “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.”
CNN’s Julian Cummings, Laura Ly, Hollie Silverman, Scottie Andrew and Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.