Chase Rice Speaks Out Regarding Concert Criticism: ‘Your Safety Is a Huge Priority’
Chase Rice has responded to the criticism he received for playing a concert on Saturday night (June 27) in Tennessee. The event attracted a crowd of around 1,000 fans, with many choosing not to wear masks or observe social distancing practices, despite the fact that the novel coronavirus is still a major concern in the United States.
Rice posted a video to Instagram on Monday (June 29), in which he did not outright apologize for his decision to play the show — "I understand that there’s 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 says — but instead offered up his sincere concern for fans and an invitation to comply with heath-related best practices at an upcoming show.
"My biggest thing is y’all. Y’all are why I get to write songs, y’all are why I get to tour the country, why I get to do live shows and sing these songs to you guys and you guys sing them back. You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge priority," he stresses. "Moving forward, I have a show in Ashland, Ky., on Friday, and it’s a drive-in show, You can 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," he adds. "The biggest thing for all of us is the safer we are now, the quicker we get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want."
The venue Rice played, Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, is a former maximum-security prison turned event venue in Petros, Tenn. A representative for the venue says they complied with COVID-19-related guidelines by reducing capacity from 10,000 to 4,000 people and implementing other safety measures, such as making hand sanitizer available and requiring staff to wear masks and gloves.
"We are re-evaluating the series from top to bottom," says Brian May, vice president of the Brushy Mountain Group, "from implementing further safety measures, to adding stanchions, to converting the space to drive-in style concerts, to postponing shows."
Tennessee's current guidelines for reopening recommend that event venues "operate in a manner such that persons from different households or small groups are able to substantially maintain 6 feet of separation from other persons or small groups outside their own group during their visit." The guidelines also suggest that staff take guests' temperatures and "strongly encourage" face masks, but do not require either. At this time, the state of Tennessee as a whole is not mandating that people wear face masks when out in public.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 28, Tennessee has recorded 40,172 cases of COVID-19 since Jan. 21; a total of 6,155 of those cases have been recorded in the past seven days. Morgan County specifically, where Petros is located, has only had 23 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one related death, though there are no rules in place to keep those from other counties or out of state from traveling to the area.
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