In a new interview with People, published Sunday, the country singer -- who is a judge alongside Lionel Richie and Katy Perry -- explained why it can be "very tough" to shoot the reality competition series while adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols.
"The interesting thing is just trying to navigate all of the new rules of COVID-19," said Bryan, 44 . "One tricky thing is a lot of times during the audition process, contestants will get very, very emotional and it will be an emotional situation for them. The fact that me and Lionel and Katy can't walk out there and do the human element -- hug and show support and love, is very, very tough."
"I think that's one thing you'll see as a viewer of me and Lionel and Katy," he continued. "When someone is hurting and they're emotional, you want to console them and hug them and love on them to help them through."
Bryan added, "The fact that sometimes we can't go put our arms around them is pretty heartbreaking."
Although they have to follow new safety measures, Bryan said they have managed to "put an amazing show together."
"At the core of it, it's all about those wonderful singers and talented singers walking in the door and really blowing our minds as judges," he explained, noting that the show will "look and feel the same."
"I think through all of the COVID restrictions and rules, we've been able to really, really put an amazing show together, and very excited to see some of the talent that we've been able to find," Bryan said.
Bryan, Ritchie and Perry have been the three judges on "American Idol" since 2018, following the reality show's revival on ABC.
Last season, from the Top 20 week to the finale, the show was filmed remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the contestants, judges and host Ryan Seacrest broadcasting from their homes.
"American Idol" kicked off its fourth season on ABC -- and 19th overall -- on Sunday night. Check out our premiere recap, here.