As Karaoke owners face desperate times govt gives option of converting them into bars or shops

COVID-19 has hit many businesses and among them are Karaokes, night clubs, Drayangs have been among some of the hardest hit businesses.

 A member of the Karaoke Association said that although they understand that this might be the initial phase for the unlocking process, karaoke should not have been clustered with the threat factor that others like Drayangs and night clubs pose- which require more physical and close contact to operate.

He said, “However, I am not saying that these businesses should not open, since we understand how much they have invested in as well and our rents and loans might be similar and we are all going through a very tough time.”

 He said “it has been almost 7 to 8 months now since we have had to completely abandon our businesses and there was no window of opportunity to generate any revenue for paying rents and loans”.

He added that some of the members in the associations were struggling so much so that they are not even able to provide basic necessities for their families.

Currently, in conversation with the Prime Minister, the karaoke owners were offered business diversification help from the government upon their agreement, for example in case of karaoke owners wanting to run a bar instead of karaoke, the government had told them that they would help with the bar license. However, in case some owners who would want to turn it into other businesses like stores, they would have to avail a license through the trade office.

Upon that offer, some of the owners were still unsure how even if they ran a bar in place of karaoke, customers would come to buy drinks. They said that consumer normally comes to sing and when they are singing, they start buying.

The government is firm on the decision of not yet opening these sectors due to higher risks associated with the entertainment businesses given the nature of the pandemic.

The Office of the Prime Minister stated that, the PM had assured them that eventually they will be let to open and run their businesses, however, for now, they will still not be able to do their regular businesses.

One of the owners said, “We have to charge higher prices since we have invested so much in the ambience, sound proofing, seating and other facilities, but if there is no singing, I think people would prefer other places, if not cheaper ones.”

 Another member said that it is about time that karaoke was also allowed to operate with restrictions and health protocols in place.

He cited, “Since sports like archery, football, snooker, gym halls and others are already allowed to open we are a bit confused as to why we are categorized as a higher risk business since our businesses are hardly any different from a restaurant or a bar.”

He said that the only difference is in having a platform and the mike setup which if we were allowed to operate, we would make sure to sanitize and operate with all precautions.

He added, “Following the health protocols and all is our responsibility and we also ensured we would do so to the Prime Minister’s office but we are yet hearing anything for our type of business.”

He said that bars and restaurants could be setup with smaller capital investments but as for karaoke the owners had to at least invest more to setup sound system, sofas, cable and the singing platforms among other things.

 One of the members said in terms of staffs, they have been supported by the Kidu from His Majesty which came as another great boon in such times.

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