Karaoke bars in Hanoi will be allowed to reopen on the condition that they comply with fire prevention requirements.

This decision follows the tragic deaths of three firefighters in a karaoke blaze on August 1, 2022, which renewed attention to fire safety measures in the city's entertainment venues.

Lê Hồng Sơn, deputy chairman of the Hà Nội People's Committee, has instructed the Department of Culture and Sports and the people's committees of districts to resume the process of granting licences to karaoke service businesses.

To ensure transparency, districts must publicly list the administrative procedures for obtaining these licences and follow the relevant regulations.

To further support this effort, the Department of Culture and Sports has been tasked with guiding and training the staff of the districts' people's committees on how to grant and adjust licences for karaoke businesses.

Additionally, the department will monitor and inspect the handling of administrative procedures related to karaoke service business licences and report on the situation to the municipal People's Committee.

By the end of 2022, there were about 1,500 karaoke establishments, bars and discos in Hà Nội, of which police agencies managed 733 establishments and 805 by commune-level people's committees.

Through reviewing fire prevention and fighting conditions, more than 570 temporary suspensions have been made, and nearly 570 decisions on shutting down karaoke business establishments, bars and discos have been issued.

From the beginning of this year, many karaoke service businesses have spent billions of đồng on improving fire safety and prevention.

In February, the Hà Nội People's Committee assigned the City Police to organise a meeting to guide karaoke establishments how to meet the requirements of fire prevention and fighting.

Over the past two years, karaoke bars in the city have been closed continuously because of the COVID-19 pandemic and regulations related to fire safety, and many establishments have gone bankrupt.

Karaoke bar owners’ gathering

Over 200 karaoke establishment owners from 11 cities and provinces convened in Hà Nội earlier this week to discuss their struggles in adhering to fire safety regulations.

Many proprietors expressed their confusion and frustration in meeting the various requirements and regulations, which sometimes overlap with old and new standards. Adding to their difficulties, many newly introduced regulations lack clear instructions, further complicating business matters.

Bùi Thị Thu Hà, a businesswoman hailing from Thanh Hóa Province, shared that around 838 karaoke establishments in her province have been on the brink of bankruptcy since 2022.

This was after the Ministry of Public Security ordered a general inspection of fire prevention and control in karaoke bars nationwide, leading to the closure of many establishments.

The businesswoman further explained that each karaoke room requires an investment ranging from VNĐ500 million to one billion (US$21,000-42,000) for sound and fire control systems. 

When applying the correct fire safety standards for houses and buildings, it means most karaoke parlours have to demolish the entire interior and re-install new fire safety systems, Hà said.

Trần Xuân Dũng, a karaoke bar owner in HCM City, said that each establishment needs an investment of VNĐ10 billion ($420,000) on average.

Most of this investment money was borrowed or mortgaged from banks. The closure caused losses for the owners and jobs for many people.

"I invested in four establishments," Dũng said. "Each facility is about VNĐ10 billion, plus the housing rent is about VNĐ500 million per month. And I have to pay bank interest and maintain services during the closure.”

“I am about to declare bankruptcy because I cannot stand it anymore. This is also the general situation of karaoke bars in the city.” 

Most karaoke bar owners agreed that, like other businesses, they want to comply with and operate following the law.

It is necessary to find a way to remove the obstacles to avoid losses to the investors and negative consequences for society, they said.

Fire prevention and fighting work and tight management are necessary to ensure the safety of people's lives and properties and raise awareness and responsibility of establishment owners.

In the meeting, the karaoke establishment owners signed a petition to the Prime Minister, the ministers of Public Security, Construction, and Culture, Sports and Tourism, proposing to remove difficulties for the karaoke business. — VNS