Crooning along to your favourite song in front of an audience might be a thing of the past in Quebec bars — at least temporarily.
Bar owners have been told that karaoke will have to stop at bars across the province within the next two weeks.
Jean-Jacques Beauchamp of the Corporation Quebec des propriétaires de bars, brasseries et tavernes du Québec — a bar and tavern owners association — told Global News they were informed of the decision during a video-conference call with the Deputy Health Minister Dominique Savoie on Thursday morning.
This comes after a karaoke bar in Quebec City, Bar Kirouac, was linked to dozens of COVID-19 infections last week, including at three local schools.
“I feel sad because it’s not our fault,” said Danny Jobin owner of Le Date, a karaoke bar in Montreal’s gay village.
“It’s something that happened in Quebec City and we pay for people again that don’t respect the rules.”
Jobin said his bar follows strict protocols to ensure a safe environment.
“We have people who Purell everything, we have protection for microphones for karaoke and between each person they clean everything,” he said.
Additionally, bars will be required to register the names and contact information of all patrons who enter the premises in order to facilitate contact tracing.
Jobin said he will comply with the requirement but added that he’s tried registering clients before but some would leave fake names and write things like “Lion King.”
Both Jobin and Beauchamp are upset. They say bar owners weren’t consulted and it was a unilateral decision.
Beauchamp estimates around 500 to 600 bars will be impacted and that as many as 2,500 employees could be furloughed as a result.
Jobin said he’s not sure what comes next, but hopes to keep the bar open as long as possible.
“We still have the terrace outside so during the day we have a little business but not like before because we don’t have tourists,” he said. “But for night time, I have no idea. I’m meeting with my manager tonight; we’re going to have a plan b.”
The health ministry would not confirm to Global News that bar owners had received the directive to ban karaoke in their establishments.
— With files from Global’s Tim SargeantView link »