July 28, 2020 / 5:19 AM / 13 days ago

New York concert to be investigated for 'gross' social-distancing violations: governor

(Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that health authorities are investigating a weekend charity concert featuring performances by the Chainsmokers and the head of Goldman Sachs, for “gross” violations of public health rules aimed at fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily briefing following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., July 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“(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 at his daily briefing, calling it “disrespectful to fellow New Yorkers.”

New York’s Department of Health will investigate local officials’ oversight of the event, which took place on Saturday in the affluent beach community on the east end of Long Island, and how security workers and event organizers enforced rules during the “drive-in” concert.

The event billed as “Safe & Sound”, was attended by concert-goers in about 600 cars, some of whom paid up to $25,000 for parking spaces.

Some videos posted to social media appear to show people gathered in close proximity around the stage. Attendees were instructed to stay in their allotted space and leave only to use restrooms.

The organizers, who are with the groups In The Know Experiences and Invisible Noise, said the videos were misleading and do not accurately depict the entire event.

They said in a statement that they worked with state and local health officials to implement the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, that all attendees were screened for fevers before entering, and that they “made best efforts” to follow New York’s social distancing rules.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) Chief Executive David Solomon opened the concert with an hour-long DJ set, performing under the moniker DJ D-Sol.

Bank spokesman Jake Siewart said Solomon “performed early and left before the show ended.”

“The vast majority of the audience appeared to follow the rules, but he’s troubled that some violated them and put themselves and others at risk,” Siewart said in an emailed statement.

New York was the early epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak and has recorded more COVID-19 deaths than any other U.S. state.

Cuomo, a Democrat, announced limited and phased reopenings around the state starting mid-May. Restrictions remain on large gatherings.

Profits from the event will go to several local charities, according to organizers.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Bill Berkrot

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