The musician came under fire after performing to a crowd of 1,000 fans at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary on Saturday 27 June, with footage shared by Rice on his Instagram showing a packed audience, many of whom were not wearing masks.
After being called “selfish” by fellow country music performer Kelsea Ballerini, Rice addressed the situation with a video shared to his Instagram on Monday in which he described having a “blast” but people online having a “problem” with it.
“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,” 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 you songs and you guys sing them back. You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge, huge priority.”
Rice confirmed that his upcoming drive-in show in Kentucky on Friday would be going ahead, saying: “You have your own space, you can get out of your cars, you can get out of your trucks and party with me,” he said. “And the biggest thing for all of us is the safer we are now, the quicker we get to actual normal live shows, which I know we all want.”
“Thank you guys for understanding, please go by the rules, please go by the laws on this Friday show coming up and shows moving forward so we can get to regular shows soon enough.”
Over the last week, the US has seen a massive spike in its number of coronavirus cases, with experts warning that a “second wave” is coming after social distancing measures loosened.
Tennessee, where Rice’s gig took place, saw its highest ever infection count on Friday, with 1,410 new people testing positive for the disease.