A charity concert on Saturday night in the Hamptons featuring performances from the chief executive of Goldman Sachs and the D.J. duo the Chainsmokers drew widespread outrage and a state investigation after video footage showed attendees appearing to ignore public health precautions.
The concert, called Safe & Sound, was billed by organizers as a “drive-in music experience in the famous summer hot spot, the Hamptons.” Guests would be able to sit outside near their parked vehicles in spaced-out areas to watch the performances, including one from the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, David M. Solomon, also known as D.J. D-Sol, and another from Jay Schneiderman, the supervisor of the Town of Southampton, where the concert was held.
Tickets cost up to $25,000, according to Billboard.
“Safe & Sound will set the bar for a new era of immersive experiences,” the organizers said. “This will be a safe and controlled environment, setting the bar for all events to come.”
But the event instead has generated angry social media posts, and on Monday it drew the ire of state officials.
In a blistering letter addressed to Mr. Schneiderman, New York’s health commissioner, Howard A. Zucker, wrote that he was “greatly disturbed” by reports that showed thousands of people standing close together and “generally not adhering to social-distancing guidance.”
“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,” Dr. Zucker wrote.
At a news conference in Southampton on Tuesday, Mr. Schneiderman said that when his band was performing, nobody was crowded in front of the stage. But he said people were allowed to gather there later, which violated the permit for the event.
“It violated the social distancing regulations,” he said. “They’ve been cited by the town. There’s likely to be more following an investigation we’re doing.”
The event’s organizers, In The Know Experiences and Invisible Noise, said in an emailed statement on Monday night that they had followed “all proper and current protocols,” noting that guests were repeatedly told that they could not leave their designated areas, spaced at least six feet apart, unless they needed to use the bathroom.
Guests’ temperatures were checked and “security guards regularly patrolled the area to encourage mask wearing and promote social-distancing guidelines,” the organizers said.
The organizers did not answer questions about whether they knew that people were breaking the rules.
Several people who went to the concert told Buzzfeed News that they felt safe and that people were social distancing.
The fierce criticism of the concert came as news reports and posts on social media have highlighted a number of parties and concerts being held in the New York City area where guests have seemingly ignored social-distancing rules. Concerts across the country have been canceled for fear of endangering public health.
Many criticized the concert in the Hamptons on Saturday night as being representative of a disregard among wealthy New Yorkers, many of whom vacation in the Hamptons, to the dangers of the coronavirus, which has disproportionately hurt low-income populations.
“The Department of Health will conduct an investigation,” Gov Andrew M. Cuomo said in a tweet. “We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health.”