During the coronavirus pandemic, Saturday Night Live is already taking a huge risk by producing live shows with in-studio audiences inside Studio 8H at 30 Rock, and now a new risk has been introduced. Country musician and The Voice alum Morgan Wallen, who SNL announced last week would perform as the show’s musical guest on October 10 alongside first-time host Bill Burr, spent the weekend partying with and kissing crowds of mask-free people while spending time in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, according to multiple videos circulating on Twitter and TikTok.
As one local news report described it, Wallen — who posted a photo on Instagram of himself attending a football game at the University of Alabama on Saturday, October 3 — is seen in the clips “posing with fans in T-Town, downing shots, kissing girls, playing the guitar and generally making merry” at various locations like “a bar, at a house party, in the backseat of a fan’s car and more.” Wallen and the other people in the clips aren’t wearing masks or taking any kind of precaution; it’s like watching some alternate reality where COVID doesn’t exist.
Watch some of the clips that have been circulating below:
Saturday Night Live, however, has been taking all kinds of precautions to ensure that the cast, crew, and audience members remain COVID free at 30 Rock this season, including requiring everyone not on-camera to wear masks at all times and administering constant rapid testing. Even last week’s read-through was moved from the usual offices to Studio 8H, where cast members could socially distance. But rapid test results aren’t always reliable and can lead to false negatives, so even the most stringent policies aren’t foolproof when it comes to possible exposure. A rep for SNL did not respond to a request for comment on the videos, and, so far, efforts to reach the singer’s reps have been unsuccessful. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how risky SNL considers Wallen to be to the safety of the show.
Update, Wednesday, October 3, 7:30 p.m.: It looks like Morgan Wallen’s weekend antics were ultimately deemed too much of a risk for the show to take. On October 7, Wallen announced on Instagram that he would no longer be appearing on the program, after popping up all over social media over the weekend partying sans mask. “I’m in New York City in a hotel room. I was getting ready for SNL this Saturday, and I got a call from the show letting me know that I will no longer be able to play. And that’s because of COVID protocols, which I understand,” he said. “I’m not positive for COVID, but my actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted, and they’ve obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams. I respect the show’s decision because I know I put them in jeopardy, and I take ownership for this.”