I'm vaccinated. Is it OK to sing into a karaoke mic again?
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Oh, my goodness. Just think of all the things the pandemic has made it harder to do. One of them is karaoke.
VICKY HALLETT: It's so fun to sing and make a fool of yourself and feel like a rock star, and you don't need to be good at singing.
INSKEEP: Vicky Hallett is a reporter, but more important, a karaoke enthusiast. You can even say it's her fire, her one desire.
HALLETT: I think when people go to a karaoke bar, it's normally 'cause you want to see a lot of people. And I think the more people you go with, the more fun it can be because you have this built-in audience of people who are rooting for you and people you are rooting for. Everybody becomes your friend by the end of the night.
SCOTT DETROW, HOST:
Here's the problem, though. The regular crowd shuffling in at 9 o'clock on a Saturday makes for a tricky COVID environment.
HALLETT: It's in a bar where everyone is jammed fairly close together. The air is kind of thick and gross with people singing and alcohol.
INSKEEP: Maybe the rooms aren't smoky anymore, but a singer in a poorly ventilated room makes for perfect superspreaders because there could be viruses lingering with the smells of wine and cheap perfume.
HALLETT: You have the microphone, which is just this object that people are holding really, really close to their mouths while spit is coming out. And it's an object that isn't very easy to sanitize.
DETROW: But if every night in your dreams you see you, you feel you getting back to the karaoke bar, many are trying to keep things safe. They're employing temperature screenings, masks, even vaccination check cards. Some bars have put more precautions in place since you've been gone.
HALLETT: Instead of having those songbooks that everyone passes around to pick their song, you could have digital song selection, that kind of thing. And then for microphones, I think it's a lot more common to have disposable microphone covers. They look a little bit like shower caps that go over a microphone.
DETROW: But in some countries, karaoke isn't just a pastime, it's part of the culture. You could say it's part of how people survive. So Hallett is hopeful More karaoke bars will open back up so people can return and shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture. But...
HALLETT: It's still a high-risk activity, even vaccinated. So certainly, it's still probably a good idea to wear a mask, which might not be the most comfortable way to do karaoke, but would be a safer way.
DETROW: Even if you will always love karaoke, safety still comes first.
(SOUNDBITE OF JOURNEY SONG, "DON'T STOP BELIEVIN'") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.