As cases of the coronavirus appear to be spiking across the U.S. as each state begins to open businesses and restaurants back up, it's no secret that Americans are ready to get back to normal, pre-pandemic. However, this hasn't come with some sort of backlash with the country still divided on how the U.S. should be handling the situation. Recently, country artist Chase Rice became a center for controversy after he performed a concert in Tennessee where fans were seen gathered without wearing masks.
After fellow artists like Kelsea Ballerini voiced their disapproval of Rice's decision to perform in such a critical time, Rice is now speaking his side of the story. In a video posted to Instagram, he explained that his fans mean the most to him and their safety is his priority moving forward. "I understand 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, 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's a huge, huge priority."
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He continued with, "Moving forward, I have a show in Ashland, Kentucky, on Friday, and it's a drive-in show take your trucks, take your cars, you can have your own space, you can get out of your cars, trucks and party with me please do! Sing the songs but stay in your own space, stay with the people you came with, and the biggest thing for all of us is the safer we are now, the quicker we can get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want [...]."
Rice performed at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary on Saturday, where concertgoers were seen without face masks. When he took to social media sharing a video and titling it, "We back." However, with many in the music industry feeling the frustration of how things have panned out since the lockdown first started in late March, several were upset with Rice, including Ballerini. "Imagine being selfish enough to put thousands of people's health at risk," she wrote in a Tweet. "Not to mention the potential ripple effect, and play a NORMAL country concert right now. [Rice], We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait." Cassadee Pope also spoke out, writing a response, "Wait. Is this real? I'm so confused as to how this many people got approved by a venue to gather during a pandemic. Wft?"