While live music has returned and COVID restrictions are lifting, the United States (and the rest of the world) is not entirely out of the woods yet. Music venues are still checking concert-goers' vaccination status and requiring negative COVID tests, and Garth Brooks is opting to postpone his stadium tour and perform at dive bars in order to better ensure attendees are fully vaccinated.
Taking to Facebook Live for his weekly series, Inside Studio G, Brooks revealed that he and his team would prefer smaller venues in order to check that all those attending his shows have received their full vaccination or provide proof of a negative COVID test that was taken within 72 hours upon entry. While stadiums are beginning to fill in for sports games, Brooks said he felt that smaller numbers would make it easier to ensure all restrictions are being followed.
"And I know that people are saying they're doing this at the NFL games, great for them," Brooks said of the restrictions. "I just can't imagine how you pull all that together, and especially on five shows that we sold tickets without this being part of the package, either. So I thought it was unfair for us to even approach this. So, like I said about a month ago, we'll watch. Watch how college football's doing, professional football. We'll learn from Clear and Tighten, those are the two kind of major companies that are doing the vaccine, and then also watch the numbers."
Brooks' dive bar performances will only have a limited number of spots (Oklahoma City's performance can hold 700 people, and has already had over half a million entries since it was announced), but his stadium tour is scheduled to return next year so long as COVID cases continue to fall.
"The thing that scares me that you have to look at is, I never saw the second wave coming," Brooks said. "I didn't know there was going to be such a thing. Well, is there a third wave? So, you just watch this."
As the Delta variant has been making its way through the United States, and even leading to breakthrough cases, Brooks canceled five shows on his stadium tour. While the country singer and his team are fully vaccinated, he did not want to risk performing in order to ensure safety for the rest of his audience.
The country icon also revealed to Gayle King during CBS This Morning this past July that he had been "scared to death" to return to music in 2014 after his 14-year hiatus. Brooks opted to put his career on hold so he could focus on raising his three daughters, returning to live music once his youngest completed high school. Last May, the country star also received the Kennedy Center Honors alongside Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, and Midori.