The country singer shared a video of his show at Tennessee’s Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary concert venue over the weekend, which marked one of the first times he’s been back on stage since the pandemic forced new guidelines on large gatherings. The video shows thousands of attendees crowded around the stage cheering and singing along. Very few of the audience members appear to be wearing masks.
It didn’t take long before people who saw the video began to criticize the “Lonely If You Are” singer, alleging that he doesn’t care about the health and safety of his fans as the state of Tennessee joins several others in the U.S. in seeing a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Among the singer’s critics was fellow country star Kelsea Ballerini, who took to Twitter to chastise Rice for putting “thousands of people’s health at risk.”
“Imagine being selfish enough to put thousands of people’s health at risk, not to mention the potential ripple effect, and play a NORMAL country concert right now. @ChaseRiceMusic, We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait,” she wrote Sunday.
Representatives for Rice did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
However, the company that owns the Tennessee venue, Brushy Mountain Group, 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.”
Rice has made it clear in the past that he doesn’t necessarily believe in some of the measures people throughout the country are taking to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
In March, he shared on Instagram: “I’m not throwing blame to any promoters or decision makers on this, they gotta protect themselves and the well being of people, so I get all sides of this deal. I personally, choose not live scared, especially of something that I can’t really control.”
Days later, he released a song on Instagram that he captioned “Dear corona…” with lyrics: “Dear corona, you don’t know the heart of a country fan / You don’t know that we don’t give a damn / So you can reschedule Stagecoach / But you gotta understand / That you don’t know the heart of a country fan.”
Meanwhile, fellow country singer Chris Janson caught similar backlash for sharing a since-deleted video of his large crowd at the Hwy 30 Fest in Filer, Idaho, over the weekend. Variety reports that his crowd had roughly 2,800 people in attendance.
As of Monday morning, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 10,154,984 people across 188 countries and territories, resulting in at least 502,048 deaths. In the U.S., all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19, tallying more than 2,549,069 illnesses and at least 125,803 deaths.Somaderm - thisisonsale.com