New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the Department of Health has charged concert promoter In the Know Experiences with public health violations at Southampton summer concert featuring the band the Chainsmokers. The state is seeking $20,000 in fines for non-essential gathering and not enforcing mask wearing.
The July ‘Safe and Sound Concert Series’ caused an uproar on social media and the DOH launched a probe, determining the crowd was more than 2,150 for the concert in Water Mill. It had been billed as a drive-in with ticket packages ranging from $850 to an uber-VIP option for $25,000 that accommodated RVs. Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon was spinning tracks. Profits were earmarked for charity.
The Empire State, which had been the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic early on, was then banning gatherings of more than 50 people.
“I said immediately following reports of this event, it was an egregious violation of the critical public health measures we have had in place since the beginning of this pandemic to protect New Yorkers from COVID-19,” Governor Cuomo said today. “We will continue to hold people and businesses accountable for their actions and the local governments must enforce the rules or else we will hold them accountable as well.”
The Town of Southampton had issued the promoter a special event permit for the concert after reviewing the application which laid out all them measures “that ostensibly would be taken to protect against COVID-19. Critically, the promoter’s Special Events Application omitted reference to a designated ‘friends and family’ section where concertgoers could freely congregate and where mask-wearing was not enforced,” Cuomo said.
“We have worked too hard throughout this pandemic to keep infection rates low utilizing proven public health measures, and we must ensure that they stay in place. If they do not, enforcement is always an option. We will take whatever measures we can to protect the public health of all New Yorkers,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.
New York’s State Liquor Authority and State Police Task Force conduct regular checks of bars and restaurants to assess compliance. Amidst a recent outbreak, a new Cluster Action Initiative has pinpointed areas of Red hotspots, surrounded by Orange and Yellow Zone with successively tighter restrictions to stop virus spread. The clusters are in parts of Brooklyn and Queens in NYC and several counties upstate, focused in part on Orthodox Jewish communities, where relations with the governor are fraying.
In a separate announcement Tuesday, Cuomo said he’ll withhold state funds from localities and public and private school in cluster zones that don’t enforce public health law. He said warning letters would be going out to local governments in cluster zones that they will lose state funding if they fail to enforce state limits on gatherings and the closure of schools. He will also send individual letters to schools that they’ll lose state funds if they don’t comply with requirements on closure and testing.
“We know that public and private schools in the red zones are supposed to be closed. We know that there were violations where yeshivas were operating. We know there were violations where religious gatherings were happening that exceeded the guidelines,” Cuomo said.
Red Zone areas have 2.8% percent of state’s population but 15.6% of all positive cases reported yesterday, he said. Positivity rates are 6.29% compared to 0.95% in the rest of the state.