Everyone’s favorite country music awards are back — but this year, nobody’s happy about it. The CMAs are facing major backlash from fans, media, and even would-be nominees like Garth Brooks for their decision to go ahead with an indoor, mask-free awards show as COVID-19 cases reach new daily highs across the US. Hosted by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker, the show has been plagued with pandemic-related concerns from the start, including last-minute cancellations from artists Lee Brice, Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard, Lady A, and Rascal Flatts after positive COVID tests — the latter two just hours before the show was scheduled to begin. Some are even calling the award show a potential COVID-19 superspreader event, while others say they’re just praying for their favorite country star’s health going forward.
— Lady A (@ladya) November 12, 2020
There’s no denying how odd it is to see this room full of people clapping, cheering, eating together unmasked as though nothing has changed — except that this is, of course, a much smaller group of guests than it normally would be. Unless you’re a Kardashian or ascribe to a similar lifestyle, this sort of socializing just hasn’t been possible for most of us — and many are shocked that the CMAs would go through with this plan even as we hit a new spike in COVID-19 patients.
They got the CMAs on at my job. Not a mask in sight. Just bad music 😌
— A. J. Staples (@AaronStaples9) November 12, 2020
— Miss Envy 🍂 (@missenvy) November 12, 2020
Ummmmmmmm. I don’t see a single mask in this CMA Awards crowd. Like. We just had the most new cases in a day and y’all are just indoors yelling and cheering without any protection??
— Jen (@such_hockey_wow) November 12, 2020
ABC and all those involved in hosting the CMAs have been adamant from the start that they were following rigorous quarantining and testing protocol to ensure the health and safety of those involved in the show — and equally adamant that an in-person show is what country music needs right now, pandemic or no.
“Thank you to all of you the artists, everybody in the room, it’s a miracle we’re in here tonight. For us and this town and the genre I feel it’s important,” an official told the performers before the show. “Thank you everyone for getting tested. By you being here, you put a lot of people to work when they need a pay check really bad. I thank you for that as well.”
Carly Pearce, whose planned performance with Lee Brice was canceled when he tested positive for COVID-19, seemed to agree that a change of tone was well overdue.
“This is the first time that really all of us are coming together to for the good of country music this year,” Pearce told SheKnows exclusively. “And it’s been a heavy year for everyone. And, you know, there’s lots of COVID testing happening behind the scenes and all the safety precautions with our rehearsals.”
There’s equally no denying that those who are there seem happy to be there. But we hope, as do their fans, that no one’s health suffers because of this event.
Before you go, click here to see all the pregnant stars on the red carpet.