COVID-19 Has Forced an Entire Canadian Province to Ban Karaoke

After an outbreak tied to a karaoke bar spread to at least 68 people, Quebec has banned the activity. Some Québécois karaoke fans are not happy.
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
The Canadian province of Quebec is prohibiting karaoke after the joyous activity caused a surge in COVID-19 cases.
A stock photo of a man singing. Photo via Pexels. 

The Canadian province of Quebec is prohibiting karaoke after the joyous activity caused a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The decision to ban singing in bars, which was leaked on Thursday and made official Friday morning, was made after 68 cases of the coronavirus were traced back to a single night at Bar Kirouac, a karaoke bar in Quebec City.

In a statement released Friday, Quebec’s Department of Health said karaoke, and singing in general, has several risk factors that contribute to the spread of the virus. These include the “projection of respiratory droplets when people sing, the proximity between the participants, and the sharing of common objects, in particular microphones.”

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The government is also “strongly” discouraging “karaoke activities organized in a private place bringing together people who do not live at the same address.”

Quebec’s top doctor, Horacio Arruda, said in a statement the ban is “part of our preventive actions in view of a probable second wave of cases.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, Quebec has been a COVID-19 hotspot, accounting for over half the deaths in Canada (5,774 of 9,163), mostly because of outbreaks in long-term care homes. As bars and restaurants reopen and children return to schools, Quebec’s and Canada’s numbers have been rising, prompting some provinces to reverse their reopening plans.

Some karaoke enthusiasts didn’t take the news well. Billy Karaoke, the self- proclaimed “King of Karaoke” in Quebec, held a small pro-karaoke rally of about a dozen people in Montreal Thursday night after hearing news of the ban. At the rally, the man, donned in a yellow coat and ripped jeans, performed Bon Jovi songs for his crowd and proudly held up a sign that said “non a la karaophobia.” Mr. Karaoke also wrapped himself in chains and posed in front of a Quebec news outlet to protest the decision.

“Long live free karaoke!”  he wrote in an Instagram post about the ban.

Billy Karaoke told CP24 that he feels the karaoke community is being punished by a select few who don’t follow the rules. He was adamant the majority of bar belters wash their hands and follow the proper measures to not spread the virus.

On top of the decision to ban karaoke fun times, Quebec is now making contact tracing mandatory (it was previously encouraged but not required). Contact tracing—when a bar takes a name and number from customers to inform them if someone who was at the bar at the same time had COVID-19—has been recognized as an important tool in fighting the pandemic but has failed in Canada before.

After almost 500 people were exposed to COVID-19 at a Toronto strip club and despite the strip club using contact tracing, the government could only contact a third of them because people gave false names and information.

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