A little over a year after he drew criticism for playing a packed concert during the COVID-19 pandemic, country singer Chase Rice says he considers the pandemic to be "over," during an interview with Audacy.
"This thing's over," Rice said (quote via The Boot). "If you don't think so, move on. It's over."
"We're going back to normal life, and if you don't want to do that, stay home," Rice continued. "We're partying, country music's back, music's back. Live events are back and I couldn't be happier."
While live music and concerts have begun to resume around the country, the return of large stadium shows and some festivals has proved to be rocky. On Aug. 3, Garth Brooks postponed the onsale date for tickets to his upcoming Seattle show and made a statement that he and his team will "assess where the remainder of the dates this year stand due to the resurgence of the covid virus."
In July, Dierks Bentley canceled his Seven Peaks Festival in Colorado because COVID restrictions weren't lifted there.
"We tried everything to make it happen, but Chaffee County has decided against lifting capacity restrictions," Bentley tweeted in July.
Rice's comments, taken from a July 20 interview that was released on Aug. 2, come at a time when the CDC and public health officials are warning the public about a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, which can be transmitted even by those who are fully vaccinated.
"If you're vaccinated, you've done the most important thing for you and your family and friends to keep everyone safe," Gregg Gonsalves, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, told The New York Times. "There's substantially more freedom for people who are vaccinated, but the idea that everything is the same as the summer of 2019 is not the case."
The CDC reports that 93 percent of all newly reported COVID cases are from the Delta variant and over 97 percent of people hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated.
Last year, Rice drew widespread criticism for playing a non-socially distanced show at Tennessee's Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Many of the less than 1000 attendees did not wear masks.
"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," Rice said in an Instagram video following the Tennessee show in 2020. "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."
In November, Rice was criticized for making a joke about COVID-19 when tweeting about his new single.