Montreal

Quebec to ban karaoke after more than 80 COVID-19 cases traced back to single night

Radio-Canada has confirmed that the Quebec government is preparing to announce the banning of karaoke in the province's bars. Bar owners are furious.

Province confirms that announcement on banning karaoke is coming soon

A man walks by the Bar Kirouac which was closed after people that were infected by the COVID-19 participated in a karaoke, Wednesday, September 2, 2020 in Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Quebec will soon ban karaoke across the province after one karaoke event in a Quebec City bar was linked to more than 80 cases of COVID-19.

Radio-Canada has confirmed that the Quebec government is preparing to announce the banning of karaoke in the province's bars.

This came after Renaud Poulin, president of an association representing Quebec's bar owners, said he was informed of the decision in a meeting with public health officials earlier Thursday.

Jean-Jacques Beauchamp, CEO of the Corporation des propriétaires de bars, brasseries et tavernes du Québec, told CBC News in an interview the association is extremely disappointed.

"Why only us? What's the problem with karaoke?" Beauchamp said.

"This is another blow to our industry. No karaoke. No dancing. Fifty per cent capacity. Reduction of opening hours. It means what? Less clients and less revenue," Beauchamp said.

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Karaoke is extremely popular in Quebec bars, and Beauchamp said between 500 and 600 bars across the province would be affected.

But the practice came under close scrutiny after an outbreak stemming from a karaoke night at Bar Kirouac in Quebec City last month resulted in dozens of cases. The region now has the second-highest number of daily cases in Quebec, after Montreal.

Beauchamp said most bar owners have been taking precautions to protect clients, such as installing plexiglass shields between singers and the audience and disinfecting microphones after each performance.

He said the government is unfairly punishing an entire industry because a handful of bars didn't follow the rules.

He said bar owners are left with many questions.

"How long will this last? Where's the compensation? Are we still going to pay the same amount for the permits?" Beauchamp said.

Premier François Legault announced Thursday that the province is also stepping up enforcement of mask rules, with fines issued for those who refuse to comply. 

With files from Radio-Canada

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