VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Even though restrictions have been lifted in Virginia, some businesses are still struggling. Karaoke companies, particularly, are singing the blues.
In February, their mics were still muted as Gov. Ralph Northam eased other coronavirus restrictions, but didn't allow for people to sing karaoke.
Corey Johnson said his business has taken a major hit in the last year.
“We’re struggling," he said. "We are struggling hard because these restrictions are just killing a lot of people’s funds, they are killing our bank accounts, it’s not easy now.”
Johnson owns Dirty Martini Entertainment. He usually goes to bars and restaurants to entertain their customers, but he said the pandemic has paused people from picking up a mic and singing their favorite tunes.
"I kept my equipment and everything very clean and sanitized even before COVID, so this happening, so we are losing money badly,” Johnson explained.
Northam’s newest guidelines for business sectors said, “If live musicians are performing at an establishment, they must remain at least ten feet from patrons and staff and wear a mask. Karaoke must remain closed."
Owner of Karaoke with Hollywood, Todd Land, said he was thinking about dropping the mic after 16 years in business.
“Before the pandemic, it was an easy $4-5,000 a month gig," he explained. "That has been shattered to 25% of that.”
Land said he, Johnson, and another business owner wrote to Northam and city leaders asking for help.
They believe karaoke can keep up with the beat when it comes to operating safely.
Land said they would make people wear masks while they sing, and the mics would have covers on them.
“We social distance. Every time I give a person a mic and I take it back from them, I sanitize it,” he said.
Land and Johnson are urging Northam to lift the karaoke restriction so they can bring a happy tune back to Hampton Roads.