Chainsmokers' packed concert in the Hamptons sparks New York state investigation

Clips of the show shared by multiple Twitter users, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, showed crowds of people standing shoulder to shoulder. Not everyone wore masks.
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Andrew Taggart of The Chainsmokers performs on July 25, 2020 in Water Mill, N.Y.Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Safe & Sound

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By Maura Hohman

Popular electronic band The Chainsmokers is facing widespread criticism online after footage from a packed concert over the weekend in Southampton, New York, went viral.

Various clips of the show, shared by multiple Twitter users, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, showed crowds of people standing shoulder to shoulder. Not everyone wore masks.

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The concert, according to the official event website, was intended to be a "safe," "drive-in" gathering, with attendees required to stay within a certain radius of their car and only allowed to leave to use the restroom, at which point they would need to wear a mask.

But footage and photos from the event do not appear to align with these guidelines, which prompted New York state's health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, to send a letter to the supervisor of the town of Southampton, Jay Schneiderman, on Monday.

The letter, obtained by "TODAY," began by referencing the state's "declared state of emergency," which started March 7, and Cuomo's executive order, which bans nonessential gatherings of more than 50 people.

"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," he added before demanding local officials provide details around the permit.

Zucker also asked why the event was "allowed to continue when it became clear violations were rampant?"

The Chainsmokers perform in Water Mill, N.Y., on July 25, 2020.Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Safe & Sound

On Monday night, Cuomo said he was "appalled" by the footage.

"Videos from a concert held in Southampton on Saturday show egregious social distancing violations," he tweeted. "I am appalled. The Department of Health will conduct an investigation. We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health."

Spokespeople for The Chainsmokers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from "TODAY."

On Twitter, critics called out the apparently risky nature of the event, given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"Imagine if the f-----' Chainsmokers blew it for us," wrote one Twitter user.

"y’all risked corona.........for the ..... chainsmokers......." added another.

"No social-distancing during a pandemic. We may be doomed..." tweeted a third.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends social distancing and wearing a mask when near other people as two crucial ways to prevent spread of the virus. Last week, the U.S. surpassed 140,000 coronavirus deaths, and NBC News reported that more than 30 states are still seeing increasing case rates.