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Chase Rice Speaks Out Following Backlash Over Live Concert Amid Coronavirus Crisis

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Chase Rice is speaking out after getting some heat for his recent packed concert in Tennessee. The country music star took to social media to share a video with fans on Monday, and explained how his future shows will try to take more precautions to limit the possible the spread of the coronavirus.“I just want to address my show Saturday night. For those of you who don’t know, I had a show in east Tennessee. I took a video of the concert. Everybody had a blast. But then, once I posted the video, everybody seeing that online had a big problem with how the show looked, and how the show went down,” Rice said in the video.

Country singer Kelsea Ballerini was among many critics who called Rice out for performing in front of a live audience, who did not appear to be following social distancing recommendations during his performance at the Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee.

“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,” Ballerini tweeted, sharing a video of Rice’s concert.

Rice said in his video on Monday, “I understand there’s a lot of varying opinions, a lot of different opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music crowds. My biggest thing is y’all… You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge, huge priority.”

“So, moving forward, I have a show in Ashland, Kentucky, on Friday, and it’s a drive-in show,” he continued. “Take your truck, take your car, you can have your own space. You can get out of your car, 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.”

Rice concluded that the most important thing to remember is “the safer we are now, the quicker we can get to actual, normal live shows, which I know we all want.”

Rice — along with country singer Chris Janson, who performed at a crowded live show in Idaho on Saturday — were both targets of criticism from both fellow country artists and fans after sharing videos of their concerts.

Rice’s concert venue, however, addressed the controversy in a statement released to ET, sharing, “All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken.”

“We drastically reduced our maximum venue capacity of 10,000 to 4,000 maximum capacity… with less than 1,000 in attendance Saturday night providing ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level,” the statement continued. “All guests were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue and free hand sanitizer was provided to everyone at entry. All vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves when interacting with guests, and bandanas were available for purchase on-site.”

The venue said it is “looking into future alternative scenarios that further protect the attendees, artists and their crews and our employees,” and that it will be “reevaluating the series from the top to bottom.”

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Tennessee has seen a marked increase in cases over recent weeks, with the largest single-day spike in confirmed cases, 1,410, occurring the day before the concert. To date, the state has seen over 42,000 cases and more than 590 deaths.

Rice spoke with ET’s Cassie DiLaura back in May about how he’s handled the nationwide shutdowns and social distancing mandates.

“I know a lot of people are being politically correct and doing the right thing and staying home, and I have done that obviously. I’ve stayed home,” Rice said. “But the funny part to me is like people are like, ‘Stay home, don’t go anywhere!’ And I’m like, ‘Where are you gonna go? The places I wanna go aren’t open.'”

“I’m not gonna stay in my house, I’m not gonna let anyone tell me I need to stay home,” he continued. “I’m gonna go to my buddy’s house, I’m gonna go to another buddy’s house, it’s like we got three houses that we keep going to. I personally don’t see anything wrong with it.”

He continued, “I’ve laughed more, I’ve hung out more. I’ve sat around the dinner table more. I’ve got to know these people that I was otherwise buddies with, now we’re actually a real close group of people. So if you consider that breaking the rules, yeah, I’ve broken them with the best of ‘em. I had a blast and I don’t think we put anybody in danger. It’s been fine.”

Rice went on to say he doesn’t “believe the hype of this thing anyway.”

“I think it’s serious, and I think some people are dying obviously, which is a big deal, but I don’t think it’s as big of a deal that people are making it out to be,” Rice stated. “But that’s not in my control, the only thing I can control is my life, and I’m having a blast. I’ve loved every second of it.”

 

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