In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, American rapper Vanilla Ice has announced a one-off Independence Day celebration concert at a restaurant in Austin, Texas, despite recent safety regulations set in place by state Governor Greg Abbott.
Last Friday, after surpassing 5,000 coronavirus-related hospitalizations, Abbott, 62, made the decision to scale back the state’s aggressive reopening strategy and ordered bars to close indefinitely, while also forcing restaurants to reduce capacity by 50 per cent, according to the Canadian Press.
All concerts in U.S.’s second-largest state have been cancelled as a result too. However, Vanilla Ice (born Robert Van Winkle), seemingly found a loophole in the social distancing rules set in place by the governor following the recent spike.
Though Austin’s Emerald Point Bar & Grill can fit up 5,000 people in its “general admission” beach area, it is still technically considered a restaurant, meaning that the Ice Ice Baby hit-maker’s show this Friday (July 3) will be allowed.
The potentially largely-attended show was announced on Monday (June 29) via the 52-year-old’s official Twitter account. He’s calling it the “Independence Day Throwback Beach Party.”
Promoter Mike Wade told the Austin Chronicle that the gig will allow up to 2,500 attendees — exactly 50 per cent of full capacity.
Eventbrite currently has tickets set between US$25 and $300. Albeit sold out, the latter price entails “VIP seating” at the family restaurant. Additionally, the show will be “kid and dog friendly,” according to the ticket seller.
A day before announcing the show, Vanilla Ice took to Instagram expressing dismay with not only the novel coronavirus, but the 2020s as well.
“I can’t wait to get back to this,” he wrote alongside a video of a crowd at one of his concerts. “The ’90s were the best. We didn’t have coronavirus, or cell phones, or computers.”
“We had 5.0‘s, Blockbuster, Beavis & Butthead, Wayne’s World, Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan,” he added, before using the hashtag #IMissThenineties.
The Dallas-born musician concluded calling the ’90s “the last of the great decades.”
On Tuesday (June 30) — a single day after Vanilla Ice’s concert announcement — the state reported 7,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Associated Press. Amid the surge, Abbott is continuing to urge citizens to stay home.
In response to the Independence Day Throwback Beach Party, an abundance of people took to social media criticizing not only the “washed-up has-been” rapper, but those who will attend the show too.
“Imagine dying of the coronavirus because the idiot next to you at the grocery store went to a f—king Vanilla Ice concert,” one person tweeted.
Here’s what some other angered Twitter users wrote:
“These days I hear s—t like ‘Vanilla Ice to perform live concert despite COVID-19 spike’ and don’t even bat an eye,” tweeted another.
In response to the criticism, Vanilla Ice took to Twitter on Thursday (July 2) to defend himself.
“I take the coronavirus serious. But we can’t live in a bubble,” he wrote.
The rapper continued: “I think at this point we all understand the severity of it. Practice social distancing and wear a mask. This is an outside venue. Fourth of July on the lake with fireworks. Plenty of room for distancing.”
Vanilla Ice’s “stupid” decision to schedule a concert during a global pandemic follows that of country singer Chase Rice, who neither apologized or expressed regret after putting nearly 1,000 of his fans at risk of contracting COVID-19 last weekend while putting on a show in Petros, small-town Tennessee.
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