Richmond RCMP shut down two karaoke bars violating COVID-19 health orders

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      While police in Vancouver and Surrey have previously shut down makeshift nightclubs for violations of COVID-19 health orders, Richmond is seeing violations from a different type of nightlife that involves a potentially risky act of recreation during this pandemic.

      Richmond RCMP stated today (February 16) in a news release that it cracked down on two karaoke venues on the long weekend.

      Around 1 a.m. on February 13, officers visited a karaoke bar in the 4000 block of No. 3 Road near Aberdeen Square mall. Inside, officers found numerous violations of provincial health orders.

      Police issued violation tickets ($230 each) to a total of 34 staff and guests and a $2,300 fine to the manager.

      Then around 2 a.m. on February 14, officers went to a commercial premises in the 2600 block of Shell Road. There, police heard people singing karaoke at what appeared to be an unlicensed drinking establishment.

      Officers issued violation tickets ($230 each) to 21 people present and a $2,300 fine to the organizer.

      Investigators are also continuing to determine if any other business or liquor-related charges could be applicable in these cases.

      Singing has been considered a risky activity during the pandemic, due to the projection of droplets from singers which could potentially carry the COVID-19 virus. Several superspreader events and tragedies have taken place involving choirs or events with singing, despite health guidelines being followed, in various examples from around the world since the onset of the pandemic.

      "Speaking and singing lead to the release of large respiratory droplets, which are the primary route of transmission for COVID-19," the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) explains on its website. "However, the forceful exhalations associated with loud singing can result in greater numbers of particles being released."

      The BCCDC issued guidelines for choirs in August last year.

      Richmond RCMP had previously reported that officers had shut down two large parties held on February 5 and 6, and that police issued fines to all organizers and attendees.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.