UPDATE 7/31/22: The original statement from Sam Hunt as to why he was forced to cancel his appearance at Canada’s Boots & Hearts Music Festival on August 5th did not give a specific reason, only that it was due to “ongoing government restrictions.” However, some cyber sleuthing fans scrolling deep into the comments of Sam Hunt’s most recent Instagram post discovered a reply from Hunt’s official blue-checkmarked account where he appears to confirm that he’s being denied entry to Canada due to vaccination requirements.
On an Instagram post from Tuesday, July 26th where Hunt is playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” deep in the comments, a fan asks, “Why did you drop Boots & Hearts? I literally bought the one day ticket just to see you.”
Sam Hunt responds, “I wish we were still playing. I was looking forward to it. Canada is still requiring the vaccine.”
This strongly implies that Canada’s requirement for all foreign visitors to be vaccinated is the reason he is not being allowed in the country, and not necessarily the DUI he plead guilty to in August of 2021.
Please see screenshot of the comment below, and the original story below for complete context.
Sam Hunt was scheduled to headline the Boots & Hearts Music Festival Friday, August 5th in Burl’s Creek, Ontario in Canada, but he will no longer be attending after he announced he is not being allowed into the country. Jake Owen has instead been tapped as the Friday night headliner. Hunt released a statement on Thursday, July 28th announcing the cancellation, and though many have concluded that COVID-19 protocols are the reason Hunt is being denied entry while assuming that Sam Hunt has not been properly vaccinated, that has not been confirmed, while Sam Hunt’s recent DUI conviction could very well be issue.
On Thursday, Sam Hunt tweeted the statement, “Unfortunately, due to ongoing government restrictions, Sam Hunt will not be able to perform at Boots & Hearts Music Festival on August 5th. We were hopeful these restrictions would be lifted as the date got closer, but it’s apparent now that won’t happen. Boots & Hearts Music Festival has secured a great replacement, and we all hope you can continue to have a great weekend in Burl’s Creek.”
This caused a rash of comments from people concluding that Sam Hunt is refusing to be vaccinated, which would preclude him from being able to enter Canada. Hunt was both criticized and praised by certain fans for taking the stance. But Sam Hunt performed at numerous events and venues in 2021 that required proof of vaccination, or at times, a negative COVID test, and has made no public statements on the COVID vaccine.
Meanwhile, Sam Hunt plead guilty on August 18th, 2021 for a drunk driving incident in November of 2019 that very well could could preclude him from being allowed entry into Canada. On November 21st, police received multiple calls about an individual traveling south in the northbound lanes. Ellington Parkway is a principal highway in the eastern portion of Nashville. Police initiated a traffic stop where they observed Sam Hunt had bloodshot eyes, and two empty beer cans near him. He also admitted to officers that he had been drinking “recently.” Sam Hunt’s blood alcohol level was .173—over twice the legal limit.
According to Canadian entry and immigration policy, the default is to not let individuals into the country who have been convicted of DUI. “If you’ve been convicted of driving while impaired, you may be inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. This means that you generally can’t enter Canada,” is the guidance the Canadian government gives. You can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit or TRP. But depending on the circumstances of the DUI or the length of time since the offense, it can still be denied.
This could be an instance where it is not just the DUI, but the severity of the offense that Sam Hunt plead guilty to that is not allowing him entry into Canada. This was not a case where Sam Hunt was swerving in his lane and got pulled over. He was driving the wrong way on a highway, endangering the lives of himself and others. Sam Hunt plead guilty to not one, but two DUI counts: DUI first offense, and DUI per se on August 18th in a Davidson County Court. Both charges are misdemeanors. He was then sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail, with all but 48 hours of it suspended.
The sentencing could be key. Sam Hunt is still officially serving a jail sentence until August 17th, 2022, it’s just been suspended so he doesn’t have to physically be incarcerated. His appearance at the Boots & Hearts Music Festival was scheduled for August 5th. This could very well be the reason Canada is denying him entry.
Saving Country Music reached out to the Boots & Hearts Music Festival for clarification on why Sam Hunt is being denied entry, and they did not respond. SCM also reached out to the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in Canada. Communications Officer Jeffrey MacDonald said they could not comment on specific cases, but did say that performing artists are generally exempt from obtaining a work permit, and can enter Canada with a Temporary Resident Visa, or if they’re American citizens, without one. However, anyone can be denied entry if they “pose a health risk” or “have a criminal record.”
Sam Hunt does have a criminal record, is (hypothetically) still serving a jail sentence—just suspended—and his DUI could be characterized as “serious criminality,” at least by Canadian standards. The fact that Hunt would only be 12 days away from fulfilling that sentence very well could be the reason the statement from Sam Hunt said, “We were hopeful these restrictions would be lifted as the date got closer, but it’s apparent now that won’t happen.”
We still don’t know why Sam Hunt is being denied entry into Canada, and they clearly left the statement ambiguous because they didn’t want to disclose the reason. However, assuming it’s because Sam Hunt is unvaccinated when he’s made no other public pronouncements of such and does have ongoing issues stemming from his DUIs is presumptive, both for the people criticizing Sam Hunt for being anti-vax, and for the individuals praising him for taking a stand against vaccine requirements.