Country music singer Chase Rice is under fire from fellow musicians and the social media mob. His sin? Holding a concert during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The firestorm began when Rice shared videos on his Instagram stories from his concert in Petros, Tennessee Saturday night. The footage showed an audience packed tightly around the stage as they cheered, sang along, and danced to the music. Based on the video, few wore masks and social distancing seemed to be nonexistent.
Critics were quick to attack, calling Rice “selfish” for his decision to “put thousands of people’s health at risk,” while others said the footage left them “at a loss for words.”
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. ?????? https://t.co/eJaLnGu28k— Kelsea Ballerini (@KelseaBallerini) June 28, 2020
Brian May, vice president of the group that hosted the Rice concert, told Variety that “all local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken.” While the venue could accommodate 10,000 people, the concert reduced their capacity to 4,000 attendees—less than the state recommendation of 50%—and only 1,000 fans showed up on Saturday.
“All guests were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue and free hand sanitizer was provided to everyone at entry,” May said. “All vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves when interacting with guests, and bandanas were available for purchase on-site.”
The controversy came over the same weekend that some cities across the country held LGBTQ Pride Month celebrations.
A local Chicago news outlet reported that “thousands” gathered for a “Reclaim Pride” march in the city’s North Side. The article acknowledged that while masks were required, the number of people made “social distancing nearly impossible.”
So far, the rally has yet to come under attack for potentially spreading COVID-19.
It’s not the first time that public gatherings have been held to different standards based on their political affiliation. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the nation following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer, more than 1,200 medical professionals signed an open letter declaring that the response to the racial protests must be “wholly different” from the response to white protestors resisting stay-at-home orders.
"[A]s public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators' ability to gather and demand change. This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders."
While Rice didn’t apologize, he did release a video on Instagram saying that the safety of his fans is a “huge, huge priority” and that his next show on July 3rd will be held as a drive-in concert.