Country music star Travis Tritt has canceled several shows due to COVID-19, but not because anyone's sick. He's protesting the fact that the venues require ticket holders to wear a mask, get vaccinated against or test negative for the virus before attending.
"I totally disagree with any mandate that would force people to go against their better judgement or would attack their personal freedoms. That's why I am making this stand," Tritt told Billboard in an interview published Monday. "And I know, straight up, it's definitely gonna cost me money and that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make."
Tritt canceled shows in Muncie, Ind., on Oct. 23; Philadelphia, Miss., on Nov. 6; Peoria, Ill., on Nov. 11; and the Nov. 13 show that had been scheduled for Louisville, Ky.
He elaborated in a statement: "I'm putting my money where my mouth is and announcing that any venue or promoter mandating masks, requiring vaccinations, or pushing Covid testing protocols on my fans will not be tolerated. Any show I have booked that discriminates against concertgoers by requiring proof of vaccination, a Covid test, or a mask is being canceled immediately."
The "Anymore" singer told Billboard that he's "not against the vaccine," but he is against "forcing people to take medicine that they may not need and may not want."
As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 723,000 people in America alone had died from COVID-19. Officials continue to recommend a vaccine for everyone 12 and older and that unvaccinated people attending large indoor gatherings wear masks.
Tritt said he based his decision on his experience performing as part of Brooks and Dunn's Reboot tour earlier this month.
"I got literally hundreds of comments and direct messages from people on all social media platforms, which basically told me how disappointed they were," Tritt said, calling the messages "heartbreaking."
Even before that, Tritt spoke out on the topic, arguing that he's "a huge defender of basic human rights."
To make sure that no vaccine, testing or mask requirements are in place at any upcoming tour stops, Tritt's team is checking with venues, so further cancellations could be announced. Tritt said they were unaware of any such stipulations when the shows were booked.
Eric Clapton is one of several other artists who have vowed not to play anywhere vaccines are required.