• Kyodo

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Karaoke fans in Tokyo got a taste of the “new normal” on Friday, the first day after business closure requests for such establishments were lifted following a fall in new coronavirus cases.

Customers at a Karaoke Manekineko parlor near Shinjuku Station had their temperatures checked by an electronic device at the entrance and sang with microphones that had cloth covers and plastic shields attached.

The parlor, which reopened at midnight Thursday as soon as the local authorities lifted the requests, hosted a number of masked customers from the morning.

“I came to karaoke for the first time in four months. I’m really happy,” said an 18-year-old woman who visited with a friend.

A 21-year-old university student found the parlor’s measures against the virus appropriate and responsible. “I can use the facility comfortably” thanks to the measures, he said.

The parlor, which had been shut for more than two months, is limiting the number of customers depending on the size of room and ventilation. Staff wearing masks and face shields periodically disinfect the rooms.

Gloves are also available for customers who wish to wear them.

A worker holds a microphone that is covered with a plastic sheet to prevent COVID-19 infections at a karaoke parlor in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on Friday, as the store resumed operations following a coronavirus-necessitated closure. | KYODO
A worker holds a microphone that is covered with a plastic sheet to prevent COVID-19 infections at a karaoke parlor in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on Friday, as the store resumed operations following a coronavirus-necessitated closure. | KYODO

A 20-year-old employee of the parlor said she was looking forward to coming to work as she likes interacting with customers. “The coronavirus isn’t gone. We have to take the proper measures to make customers can feel safe and so they can enjoy themselves,” she said.

Karaoke establishments, typically consisting of multiple rooms in various sizes equipped with singing machines, fall under the “Three C’s” — confined spaces, crowded places and close contact — that should be avoided to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We acknowledge that customers have anxieties,” said Masahiko Komuro, chief of the investor and public relations office at Koshidaka Holdings Co., whose group runs the 509 Karaoke Manekineko parlors across the nation, including 73 in Tokyo.

“If we find good steps to take, we would like to introduce them,” Komuro said.

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