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Two concerts held in downtown Clemson despite COVID-19 restrictions

Image courtesy of Instagram

The Velcro Pygmies concert at Study Hall bar on Friday, Jan. 8, night, originally posted on Instagram by the official Velcro Pygmies account, but since deleted.

This past weekend on Friday, Jan. 8 and Saturday, Jan. 9, large crowds without masks and not observing social distancing guidelines gathered for two concerts at Study Hall, a popular bar in downtown Clemson.

The bar hosted a band called the Velcro Pygmies on Friday night and country music artist Conner Sweeny on Saturday night, according to social media posts The Tiger obtained. A photo circulating on social media shows a large crowd filling the entirety of the bar with Sweeny performing on stage.

Sweeny commented on the photo in a post to his Instagram profile on Monday, Jan. 11. “That photo is old. It is not from this weekend like everyone is saying it is. It is legitimately an old photo that has been brought back up as advertising from time to time, which I’m realizing was a mistake,” voiced Sweeny. “Saturday night we played at Study Hall. It ended up just being me playing acoustic guitar. Everyone was sitting at tables, wearing masks, being socially distant, following COVID protocol.”

The Tiger is reaching out to Study Hall bar for comment.

On Monday, Jan. 11, the City of Clemson Police Department released a statement pertaining to the Velcro Pygmies concert held at Study Hall on Friday night. According to the statement, no arrests were made or citations given in conjunction with the gathering, but an investigation has been launched into the event. 

Police also issued a notice to all establishments on Saturday night that no events of this nature would be allowed in the future. The statement outlines that “any owner or operator of a business that allows or provides such a gathering to occur can be criminally charged with violating the [governor’s emergency] order.”

The City of Clemson Police Department cited several reasons why Friday’s gathering at Study Hall was unlawful, including not only the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency, but also the City of Clemson’s mask ordinance and COVID-19 safety guidelines provided by the CDC.

On Jan. 7, Governor Henry McMaster extended South Carolina’s state of emergency, authorizing law enforcement to do “whatever may be deemed necessary to maintain peace and good order.” Individuals who are found to have violated the provisions of the state of emergency are guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of up to $100 or up to thirty days imprisonment.

Attendees of the concerts may have also been in violation of the City of Clemson’s mask ordinance, which “mandates the wearing of a mask both inside and outside of a building,” according to the statement released on Jan. 11 by the City of Clemson Police Department.

This event comes as COVID-19 cases per capita in South Carolina are highest in Pickens County and the Upstate. South Carolina is also currently leading the nation among other states for the greatest increase in COVID-19 cases.

Update, Jan. 12: Provost Bob Jones and VP of Student Affairs Chris Miller sent an email to all faculty the afternoon of Jan. 11 regarding the events this past weekend.

This weekend, a concert was held in downtown Clemson attended by a large number of people who were completely ignoring COVID-19 protocols.  The administration and police in both city government and the university are deeply concerned about this and are working together to take various actions and levy sanctions where appropriate with an aim to halt activities of this nature in the future.” wrote Provost Jones.

“Clemson City Police are responsible for enforcing local rules for business and they have been quick in beginning to address this issue.  University Relations is planning to increase its current communications regarding responsible behaviors to the general public, which includes students.  More details will be shared later.”

This is a developing story. The Tiger will post updates as necessary.

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