Vanilla Ice cancels Austin show after backlash as COVID-19 numbers skyrocket

Rapper Vanilla Ice performs onstage at the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night during the NBA All-Star Weekend 2014 in New Orleans, LA. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images/TNS)
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By Brian Niemietz New York Daily News (TNS)

Stop, contaminate and listen.

Rapper Vanilla Ice called off a Friday performance in Austin, Texas, where COVID-19 cases have been surging at record rates.

The 52-year-old performer defended his decision to go ahead with the show on Twitter Thursday morning, but pulled out soon after.

“Due to the increase in COVID-19 numbers in Austin we’re gonna move the concert to a better date,” he wrote on Twitter. “We were hoping for better coronavirus numbers by July but unfortunately the numbers have increased quite a bit so for the safety and health of everyone we’re going to stay home.”

More than 175,000 Texans have tested positive for coronavirus, which has killed 2,518 people there. COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas more than tripled in June as the state pushed to reopen businesses. Protests in the state capital continue to attract right-wing anti-maskers.

The Lone Star State’s governor ordered all bars closed last week, but the Emerald Point Bar & Grill, the venue where the “Ice Ice Baby” rapper was booked, is exempt from that shutdown because it’s technically a restaurant, according to the Austin Chronicle. More than half of the sprawling, multi-level venue’s sales are food rather than booze.

Emerald Point can reportedly accommodate 5,000 people when it opens its beachfront area. The event’s promoter told the Chronicle he only intended to sell half that many tickets.

Vanilla Ice, a Texas native born Rob Van Winkle, had earlier told his followers on Twitter that everything would be cool.

“I take the coronavirus serious. But we can’t live in a bubble. I think at this point we all understand the severity of it,” he wrote. “Practice social distancing and wear a mask. This is an outside venue, Fourth of July on the lake with fireworks. Plenty of room for distancing.”

That announcement was met with both support and criticism.

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