Country singer Chase Rice is speaking out after receiving backlash for hosting a crowded concert amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday night, Rice, 34, played a concert in Tennessee where thousands of concertgoers were packed into the venue, most of whom appear to not be wearing face masks, as is recommended to prevent the ongoing spread of coronavirus.
The singer immediately faced criticism over hosting the gig, with many suggesting he has a disregard for public health, including fellow country star Kelsea Ballerini, who called Rice “selfish” online.
On Monday, the “Lonely If You Are” singer took to Instagram to address the incident, saying that people “had a big problem with how the show looked, how the show went down.”
“I understand that there are a lot of varying opinions, a lot of different opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music, crowds and what all that looks like,” he said. “My biggest thing is y’all. Y’all are why I get to write songs, why I get to tour the country, why I get to do live shows, sings these songs to you guys and you guys sing them back.”
Rice said that because his fans’ “safety is a huge, huge priority,” his next live performance will be a drive-in show.
“So, moving forward, I have a show in Ashland, Kentucky on Friday and it’s a drive-in show,” he said. “Take your trucks, take your cars, you have your own space, you can get out of your cars, you can get out of your trucks and party with me. Please do, sing the songs, but stay in your own space, stay with the people you came with.”
The musician also stressed that “the safer we are now, the quicker we get to get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want.”
He concluded: “Thank you guys for understanding, please go by the rules, please go by the laws on this Friday’s show coming up and the show’s moving forward so we can get to regular shows soon enough.”
The company that owns the Tennessee venue where Rice performed told Fox News that despite appearances, it was complying with local requirements on social distancing.
“All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken,” VP of Brushy Mountain Group Brian May said in a statement. “We drastically reduced our maximum venue capacity of 10,000 to 4,000 maximum capacity (lower than the state’s advisement of 50%) with less than 1,000 (954 tickets sold with 809 tickets scanned) in attendance Saturday night providing ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level.”
The company added that all guests were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue, which provided free hand sanitizer and offered bandanas for purchase on-site. Meanwhile, all vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves when interacting with guests.
However, May acknowledged that the venue wasn’t able to enforce a lot of the social distancing guidelines as it had hoped, and therefore plans to reevaluate how it does concerts in the future.
“We were unable to further enforce the physical distancing recommended in the signage posted across the property and are looking into future alternative scenarios that further protect the attendees, artists and their crews and our employees,” he concluded. “We are reevaluating the series from the top to bottom — from implementing further safety measures, to adding stanchions, to converting the space to drive-in style concerts, to postponing shows.”
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