‘Fully safe and physically distant environment’
Ahead of the show, Country Music Association executives said the awards show — which was held indoors — was set to be safe from the coronavirus.
“Although the show will feel a bit more intimate this year, we look forward to hosting our nominated artists and their guests as we celebrate the best of country music in a fully safe and physically distant environment,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer, in a release ahead of the show.
However, fans quickly noticed that attendees were not seen social distancing nor wearing protective masks.
A CMA rep told TV Line that every attendee was tested for the virus with some receiving additional tests and that they were “extremely diligent.” Guests were also not allowed to mingle during commercial breaks and tables were set eight feet apart, TV Line reported.
Here are all the acts that didn’t attend the awards show due to COVID.
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Lady A — comprising Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood — announced an hour before Wednesday’s awards show that they would no longer attend the show.
“Taking a look back at last year’s CMA Awards and all the fun that we have every year getting to hang out with our country music family,” the group captioned two photos on Instagram. “Sadly, one of our immediate family members has just tested positive for COVID-19 this week.”
“So far, the three of us continue to test negative, and out of caution and love for everyone involved with the CMAs, we’ve decided to stay home from the awards tonight,” they added.
Scott was set to join Thomas Rhett, Reba McEntire, Chris Tomlin and Keith Urban for “Be a Light.” Lady A, who is up for vocal group of the year, was also scheduled to perform with Darius Rucker. Kelley’s pre-taped performance with Carly Pearce was unaffected.
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Rascal Flatts revealed on their Instagram account that they would no longer be attending the show after a band member tested positive for coronavirus.
“Hey Y’all, we wanted to let you guys know that we have received a positive COVID test within the band,” they shared in the announcement. “As much as we were looking forward to performing at the CMA Awards tonight, we will no longer be attending in the interest of everyone’s safety.”
“Some of our favorite moments have happened on the CMA Awards stage and we cannot wait to return!” they added.
The group was nominated in the vocal group of the year category and was set to perform “Bless the Broken Road.”
It is unclear whether Gary LeVox, 50, Jay DeMarcus, 49, or Joe Don Rooney, 45, contracted the virus.
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Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line pulled out of the performance lineup after Tyler Hubbard tested positive for coronavirus.
“Some of y’all guessed it….. Got the Rona,” the 33-year-old captioned a selfie of himself outside of his house and wearing a baseball cap. “Asymptomatic. Quarantining on bus.”
“Miss my family. Writing songs. Thankful,” he ended the note.
Hubbard and bandmate Brian Kelley were set to perform “Long Live.” The pair was up for vocal duo of the year.
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Reigning CMA musician of the year Jenee Fleenor — who was set to perform alongside Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne and Ashley McBryde for a Charlie Daniels tribute — tested positive for coronavirus.
“Unfortunately I tested positive for…yeah you guessed it…’Rona,” the fiddler, 36, wrote on Instagram right before the show. “I am thankfully feeling just fine, just bummed of course.”
“I’m absolutely honored the CMAs asked me to perform on the Charlie Daniels tribute, and I was so looking forward to putting on some sparkly clothes … and sawin’ my heart out,” she added. “I reckon it’s just another bump in the road of 2020 and as the saying goes, ‘the show must go on.'”
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On Sunday, a rep for Lee Brice told PEOPLE that Brice, 41, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Brice — who was set to perform “I Hope You’re Happy Now” with Carly Pearce — addressed his diagnosis in a parody song on social media Tuesday.
“It’s only Carly/ It’s my mistake/I caught COVID-19 a little too late,” Brice sang to the tune of their hit. “But I guess there ain’t ever a right time/Charles, my friend, I guess it’s your time.”
The duo was slated to take the stage together after being nominated for their duet for musical event of the year and music video of the year.
Charles Kelley of Lady A performed in his place in a pre-taped segment.
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