The 55th annual CMA Awards ceremony is set to go down on November 10, but at the moment, there’s some uncertainty about the event’s COVID vaccine requirements. Rolling Stone reports that while audience members are required to be vaccinated, it’s not clear if performers and presenters will face the same requirements.
Jason Isbell caught wind of this and indicated that he’s not cool with the apparent policy, as he shared a Rolling Stone tweet about the story and added a GIF of Kristen Schaal making a disgusted face.
Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement issued on October 6 (via Rolling Stone), “As we plan our return, it goes without saying that the health and safety of our guests and crew is our top priority. Due to TV production protocols and venue and local rules, we will require all ticketed audience members to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and wear masks unless actively eating or drinking. Both the house and backstage will comply with all applicable local health and safety regulations, as well as requirements from the television unions.”
When asked about protocols for performers and presenters, a CMAs spokesperson gave a vague answer, saying, “We are in compliance with the local health and safety regulations and requirements from the television unions.”
Neither of those statements say whether or not performers and presenters are required to be vaccinated. As Rolling Stone notes, “Under those regulations, CMA Awards performers and presenters are considered members of the production crew, who are required by SAG-AFTRA’s Return to Work Agreement to undergo regular testing but not required to be vaccinated. Individual event producers have the option of mandating vaccination for production crew and performers on any shoot, while live audiences are required to show proof of vaccination and be separated from production by a physical barrier.”
Isbell has been a firm supporter of COVID vaccines: He has canceled concerts at venues that won’t comply with his COVID safety measures, and a month ago, he spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci about COVID safety at concerts.