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Country star Chase Rice says he'll do next concert differently after fans eschewed social distancing at show

Chase Rice said his next show in Kentucky will be a drive-in. "You guys are everything to me so you're safety is a huge, huge priority," he said.
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A country music fan who attended a packed Chase Rice concert over the weekend said she wasn't concerned that people were not wearing masks or social distancing.

"Everybody was close but it was kind of your own discretion. If you wanted to do it, you didn't have to do it," concertgoer Courtney Harris told NBC's "Today" show.

"I feel like we're all eventually going to get it at one point whether you wear a mask," she added.

Rice and fellow country music singer Chris Janson have come under fire after videos showed large crowds at their concerts. Rice held a show on Saturday at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Tennessee while Janson performed at the Gordy’s Hwy 30 Music Fest in Idaho.

Roughly 1,000 fans flocked to the historic penitentiary in Petros for Rice's outdoor show. The venue told NBC News in a statement Tuesday that it complied with all local safety requirements and took the necessary precautions.

Chase Rice concert in Tennessee
Chase Rice concert in Tennessee. The country music singer came under fire for the lack of social distancing and mask wearing at his show.Chase Rice / Chase Rice Instagram Stories

"All guests and employees were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue and free hand sanitizer was provided to everyone at entry," Brian May, vice president of Brushy Mountain Group, said. "All vendors and staff were given masks and gloves to wear when interacting with guests, and bandanas were available for purchase on-site."

May said the venue normally holds 10,000 people but the capacity was reduced so people could spread across the 3-acre lawn.

"Numerous signs posted across the property informed attendees of recommended social distancing guidelines. We were unable to further enforce the physical distancing recommended on the signage," he said, adding that they are considering ways to keep people safe including postponing concerts and converting the space to a drive-in.

Rice responded to the backlash by telling fans that their safety is important to him.

"My biggest thing is y'all. You guys are everything to me so your safety is a huge, huge priority," he said in an Instagram video Monday.

The singer said his next show this weekend in Kentucky will be a drive-in and urged everyone to follow the rules.

"You take your trucks, you take your cars, you have your own space. You can get out of your cars, you can get out of trucks and party with me. But stay in your own space, stay with the people you came with," he said in his video.

Janson has not publicly responded to the criticism, but a rep for the singer told "Today" that he was under contractual obligation to play and was told that the event would adhere to safety protocols.

The concerts come as cases across the U.S. climb. On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted that he was extending the state's emergency order to Aug. 29.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday that the U.S. is seeing a "disturbing surge" of COVID-19 infections, particularly in the Southeast and West.

Health officials said a large part of this surge is due to an increase of cases in younger people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. These spikes are driven, in part, because of additional testing but even more so by people gathering in large groups.