Quebec City karaoke bar at centre of major COVID-19 outbreak closes for good

A Quebec City neighbourhood institution is closing, seven months after it helped start a COVID-19 chain effect across the region that left its own clients ill, with one dead.

“After 25 years in the bar industry, the time has now come to turn the page,” wrote the owners of Bar Kirouac, the karaoke bar in the Saint-Sauveur quarter of Quebec City.

The bar made headlines across the province last August when its popular karaoke nights, attended by a loyal fan base of older patrons, led to a major COVID-19 outbreak that spread to schools and helped spark weeks of elevated virus numbers in Quebec City.

Bar Kirouac reopened in October under strict police supervision, media reported, but they were very upset by what had happened, especially because they considered the customers friends and had watched many of them fall ill.

The situation around Bar Kirouac also led to the closure last fall of all 500 karaoke bars in the province. Singing and shouting carry a major risk of COVID-19 transmission.

In their Facebook post, owners Johanne and Lucien Simard thanked everyone who’d frequented the bar — clients and staff — calling them “our second family.”

“We will have wonderful memories of this time,” they wrote. “Thank you also to all those artists who came to perform to entertain us. We loved it.”

They said they were “very happy about” heading into retirement.

Some of their clients commented with less than happy responses, making it clear that the closure will be a major loss to some.

“Today I just became orphaned by my beautiful family that I loved,” one woman wrote.

“Hoping one day for a miracle that it would come back to us… for me life will never be the same.”

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