Kelsea Ballerini is putting fellow country singer Chase Rice on blast for putting on a regular concert, without masks or social distancing enforced, in the middle of a global pandemic.
Rice played to a crowd of about 1,000 people at Petros’ Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Tennessee on Saturday (June 27). Footage from the event, shared on social media by Rice himself, showed a packed audience that did not appear to be taking any protective measures to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“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,” Ballerini wrote on Twitter Sunday night (June 28).
“Wait. Is this real?” Cassadee Pope replied to her tweet. “I’m so confused as to how this many people got approved by a venue to gather during a pandemic. Wtf?”
Ballerini wasn’t the only high-profile onlooker who was disturbed by the images. Country singer Mickey Guyton re-posted video of the concert with the caption: “This is happening in Tennessee where cases are spiking y’all. Jesus help us.”
In a statement to Billboard earlier on Sunday, Brian May, VP of the Brushy Mountain Group, said that the venue’s capacity had been reduced from 10,000 to 4,000 ahead of Rice’s concert, but there were fewer than 1,000 people in attendance at his show.
“All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken,” he said. He indicated that everyone’s temperature was checked before they were allowed entry, and hand sanitizer was given to attendees. “Vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves,” he said, though it was not mandated.
But May noted that the venue was unable to enforce the recommended distancing during the show, even though it was posted around the space. “We are re-evaluating the series from top to bottom — from implementing further safety measures, to adding stanchions, to converting the space to drive-in style concerts, to postponing shows,” he said.
The Tennessean reports that officials in the state have been debating mandating and enforcing the use of face masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Nashville Board of Health recently voted to implement a mandate, with it going into effect June 28. Tennessee has had a total of 40,172 cases of COVID-19 thus far, with 6,155 of them confirmed in the last seven days, according to records posted by the CDC.