Country singer Jason Isbell requiring vaccinations, proof of negative tests at shows
Country music singer Jason Isbell says he’s requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof at his concerts to keep his fans safe because “if you’re dead, you don’t have any freedoms at all.”
The ticket sales site for the “If We Were Vampires” singer’s Thursday concert in Tulsa, Okla., advises patrons, “With the number of COVID-19 cases rising due to the Delta Variant, all attendees of this event must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the event.”
“NO EXCEPTIONS!” the site states.
“For all of our shows, everywhere going forward, we’re going to require either a vaccine card or a negative test and we’re going to ask everybody to wear masks,” Isbell, who’s currently touring the country with his band, the 400 Unit, said Monday in an interview on MSNBC. “I feel like we’ll probably get some pushback from some states on that.”
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to go into places and play shows for people and I don’t think that’s gonna last very long unless we do it carefully,” the musician told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle.
“If we have to cancel some shows, we’ll cancel some shows,” he said.
Responding to critics who railed against the concert tour’s vaccine requirement — including songwriter Marc Broussard, who dubbed him “bourgeois” — Isbell said, “It doesn’t really feel elitist to me, it feels a little bit safer to me.”
“There’s never enough. We can’t guarantee that everybody coming to the show is coming safely and they’re not going to be spreading the virus,” the guitarist explained, “but I think it’s up to all of us just to do what we can just to keep the music business running. We’re going to get shut down again real soon if we don’t start doing this.”
Isbell, 42, hit back at “governors of certain states” who he said “want to kowtow to their political base and try to make people think that their freedom is being encroached upon.”
As the U.S. has faced a surge in COVID-19 cases — nearly 90,000 new ones a day over the past week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — many GOP governors have preemptively banned vaccination and mask mandates.
“It’s not something I support,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said last week when asked about hospitals mandating employer vaccination. In May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) banned local governments and schools from issuing mask mandates in the Lone Star State.
Without naming a specific governor, Isbell said, “I’m all for freedom, but I think if you’re dead, you don’t have freedoms at all.”
“So it’s probably important to stay alive before you start questioning your liberty,” the Grammy Award winner added. “It’s life, and then it’s liberty, and then it’s the pursuit of happiness. Those are in order of priority.”
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