Musician touring Grand Rapids requires COVID-19 vaccine or negative test

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test at all his concerts, including his show scheduled this month at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids.

The four-time Grammy award winner appeared on MSNBC Monday, saying if the venue won’t allow it, he won’t play.

“I’m not saying that anybody has to get a vaccine or a negative COVID test, but if you don’t, then you don’t get to come to the show,” Isbell said during the interview with MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle.

News 8 reached out to DeVos Performance Hall about whether they’ll enforce these requirements at Isbell’s upcoming Aug. 26 show but did not receive a response.

Isbell said the decision has gotten pushback with some critics calling the move an infringement on their freedom.

Other fans, including those with tickets to his upcoming show in Grand Rapids, praised Isbell for taking the stance.

“He said from the beginning that vaccinations were really important to him getting back to touring,” Brooke Nabkey of Ada said. “So that doesn’t surprise me at all that he announced that, and I think if anybody has tickets to Jason Isbell, they probably already knew that.”

Nabkey and her husband have tickets for Isbell’s upcoming performance in Grand Rapids.

As a mom of young kids not yet eligible to get the vaccine, Nabkey takes comfort in knowing the concert will have strict coronavirus protocols in place, including a mask mandate for everyone in attendance.

“It’s so comforting for us to know that we can truly just relax at the show and not worry about what we could potentially bring home to our kids,” she said. “And I know with kids, it’s not as big of a deal with COVID, or so they say, but it’s one of those things where I don’t want to find out the hard way.”

Another Isbell fan with tickets to the upcoming show disagrees with the policy. The fan, who asked to remain anonymous, told News 8 he’s seriously considering not attending the show in light of this announcement.

As live music continues to make a comeback, some venues are allowing the artists to decide what COVID-19 protocols are in place, including GLC Live at 20 Monroe in downtown Grand Rapids.

Officials with Live Nation, the company that owns and operates the venue, said the decision to do so was announced by CEO Michael Rapino last week.

“We can confirm Live Nation has developed best practices that will give artists the option to require fans and staff to be fully vaccinated or show a negative test result for entry at their shows in the U.S. (where permitted by law),” a Live Nation representative said in a statement to News 8.

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