CMA Awards: Unmasked, Indoor Ceremony raises questions on COVID-19 precautionary measures, producers cite “extraordinarily cautious” measures

Despite the lack of masks on camera during Wednesday’s 54th CMA Awards Ceremony, the Country Music Association claims it was “extremely diligent” in ensuring that the indoor ceremony, which was performed in front of a live audience, was held in a safe manner.

Darius Rucker and Reba McEntire hosted the ceremony, which was broadcast live on ABC at the Music City Center in downtown Nashville, Tenn. A fraction of the usual attendance was in the audience and they were seated at tables and banquets that were spaced apart from each other throughout the indoor venue. During the evening, some participants appeared to have clear plastic face shields on the tables in front of them, but they did not wear or use them during the mass shootings. Press PLAY on the video below to see.

A production representative tells TVLine that “every single person” who enters the venue – including crew, staff and artists – has been tested for the coronavirus and some have been tested repeatedly in the week leading up to the ceremony, “as an extra caution. ”The representative also noted the use of personal protective equipment and social and physical distancing; The tables in the audience were eight feet apart, with no more than four participants at one table.

Also, guests weren’t allowed to frolic during commercial breaks, and besides being seated at their assigned tables, spectators at the venue were required to wear masks.

“Of course we’re excited to bring the country music community together tonight. However, our top priority has been and remains the safety of our artists, our crew and our employees,” added the spokesman.

Hours before the show, Lady A announced via Instagram that they would not attend the awards ceremony as planned because “one of our immediate family members has just tested positive for COVID-19 this week”. Although the post assured fans that band members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood tested negative, “out of caution and love for everyone involved with the CMAs, we made the decision to get home from the awards tonight to stay.”

– Lady A (@ladya) November 12, 2020

Lady A was to perform with Rucker, and Scott was to sing with Thomas Rhett and other artists. Before the positive result, Kelley recorded a performance with Carly Pearce; He was a replacement for Lee Brice, who had to drop out days earlier after his own positive coronavirus test.

Bill Lee, governor of Tennessee, has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate. Instead, he left the decision to the counties of the state. Davidson County, where Nashville is located, had a mask mandate until October 30th. A recent study by Vanderbilt University reports that COVID-19 death rates are significantly increased in counties without a mask mandate.

Tennessean said nearly 30 of Tennessee’s 95 counties recently reported COVID-positive rates of at least 15 percent, exceeding the “red zone” threshold set by the White House earlier this year.

Since the global pandemic spread to the United States earlier this year, televised awards shows (the Emmys), the open air ceremony (MTV’s Video Music Awards), or performances split between venues (ACM of the Academy of Country Music) Awards). At the ACM Awards, also held in Nashville, several artists wore their masks on stage and only removed them to give their acceptance speeches.

McEntire coughed once while introducing a performer during Wednesday’s ceremony. “Sorry,” she said. “Not a good time for that, is it?”

The crowd laughed heartily.

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