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As Oahu Karaoke bars struggle during the pandemic, owners ask mayor to modify reopening order

Updated: Mar. 16, 2021 at 10:40 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Air Park Karaoke Lounge on Piikoi Street has been shut down for almost a year.

Owner Kylee Lin says her phone started ringing off the hook last week after Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced that bars could reopen immediately.

“Saying, ‘Hey, we would like to make a reservation. I want to bring my family in because everyone is all cooped up at home for so long.’ A karaoke night out with their family would be something really fun to do. But, unfortunately I had to say these are the rules,” Lin said.

Under Honolulu’s rules, anyone singing needs to be at least 10 feet from any other person and a physical barrier must separate the person singing from others.

Lin says she has about a dozen private rooms, which she believes can serve as physical barriers between groups or household members, but doesn’t have enough space to keep the person singing 10 feet apart from others.

“We just want to be responsible. Making sure our employees and patrons are safe. But at the same time, I’m trying very hard not to cry right now, but it’s just been very hard for us and our business. I don’t know if we can make it through if we don’t reopen soon,” said Lin.

Lin is not alone. Several karaoke bars in Honolulu have shut their doors for good.

“Other businesses have been able to pivot, but with something like karaoke, it’s almost purely just communal, you go there to meet together with people and that’s really tough to run that kind of business in a pandemic when everyone is supposed to stay away from each other,” said Kapahulu resident Dylan Whitsell.

Lin believes karaoke bars can reopen safely and asks the mayor to modify the order again.

“I’m just hoping that the city and mayor will listen to our feedback and our concerns and modify the order and help us reopen as soon as possible,” she said.

Lin is open to suggestions and is hoping to come up with a better plan to help more small businesses like hers survive.

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