The COVID-19 pandemic forces us to assess risk on a daily basis in ways we’re not used to. Is visiting a friend’s home worth the risk? Or dining outdoors at a restaurant? Depending on what kind of person you are, you might answer yes or no to those activities. But as a society, we should be able to agree that some things are not worth their respective risks, and toward the top of that list should be seeing American EDM duo the Chainsmokers at a Hamptons drive-in concert with questionable enforcement of social distancing. Yet that’s how a sizable group of people spent their night on July 25, watching the DJs headline a charity show benefiting No Kid Hungry, Southampton Fresh Air Home, and the Children’s Medical Fund of New York, with tickets ranging from $1,250 to $25,000. The event had temperature checks and provided masks and hand sanitizer, according to TMZ, but video of the event doesn’t show much social distancing or mask-wearing happening at the front of the stage. Yes, charity is great and important, but that much to see the group that gave us such hits as “Selfie” and “Closer”? Maybe everyone was really there for the opener, a performer named DJ D-Sol who’s actually … Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon. Well, so much for escaping the coronavirus in the Hamptons.
Update, July 28: The Chainsmokers are now under investigation by the State of New York for the July 25 concert, Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted. “Videos from a concert held in Southampton on Saturday show egregious social distancing violations. I am appalled,” he wrote. “The Department of Health will conduct an investigation. We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health.”
The state’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, also sent a letter to Southampton town supervisor Jay Schneiderman criticizing the event and asking for clarification, according to a copy of the letter provided to Vulture. “I am greatly disturbed by reports concerning the ‘drive-in’ concert held in your town this past weekend, which apparently involved 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,” Zucker wrote. “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.”
Update, July 28, 4:15 p.m.: Cuomo called the Chainsmokers concert “gross” on a call with reporters because, well, someone had to. “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,” Cuomo said. “It was grossly disrespectful to fellow New Yorkers, and the Department of Health is going to do a full investigation as to why the town of Southampton issued a permit; as to what the promoters thought they were doing; how the event as it was going on was allowed to get out of control; how the local law enforcement didn’t do anything when they saw that they had an event that was out of control and all the rules were being violated.”