At a news conference today, New York State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-I-C-Rome, and Assemblymembers Marianne Buttenschon, D-I-Marcy, Brian Miller, R-I-C-REF-New Hartford, and John Salka, R-C-REF-Brookfield, called on the state to release guidance that would allow bowling alleys and related entertainment venues such as billiard halls to reopen.
The lawmakers were joined by Craig Vogel with King Pin Lanes in Rome, Tony LaPolla with Vista Bowling Center in Yorkville and other local bowling alley owners and representatives.
Bowling alleys and related businesses were initially slated to reopen as part of Phase 4 of the state’s reopening process. However, they were not included in the phase and have been forced to close for several months. This extended closure, with no indication as to if they will be allowed to reopen, has caused significant fiscal challenges and economic struggles for the owners of these venues.
Some of these businesses are facing a real time crunch and will be forced to close their doors for good if they are not allowed to resume operations soon.
While they recognize that the focus must continue to be on saving lives during this challenging time, the lawmakers also believe that these small businesses are prepared and ready to reopen safely.
For instance, King Pin Lanes in Rome – whose proposal has received favorable reviews and could serve as a model for others – plans to take a number of steps to ensure safety, including drastically reducing the number of lanes available to bowlers and enforcing social distancing and the wearing of masks in all common areas. They also have invested in critical equipment such as exhaust fans and sneeze guards to protect employees and patrons. Other establishments in the state have indicated that they will require temperature checks at the door, serve food behind plastic sheets and sanitize shoes and bowling balls.
“I have heard from local bowling alley owners regarding the potential and long-anticipated reopening of their establishments during this pandemic,” Sen. Griffo said. “As reopening is occurring, there is no reason that bowling alleys, along with billiard halls and similar establishments, should not be allowed to reopen if they have the required public safety enhancements in place. These small business owners give back to their community, employ local people, contribute to the local economy, attract visitors and improve the quality of life for residents. It is imperative that we do everything that we can to help them during this public health crisis.”
“New York’s small businesses, including bowling alleys and other recreational venues, have worked diligently to craft detailed reopening plans and have patiently waited for official guidance from the Governor’s office allowing them to resume operation. There is no reason why bowling alleys, billiard halls and similar establishments cannot reopen their doors,” Assemblywoman Buttenschon said. “Reopening would not only help the businesses themselves, but also the constituents (such as our ardent bowlers) who miss participating in the activities they love and which help them maintain their physical and mental health. We must give these businesses a chance to survive and implement their plans, if we do not, I fear that many of our local bowling alleys and recreational businesses will not be able to open their doors ever again.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has created a variety of challenges for many small businesses,” Assemblyman Miller said. “While many businesses are reopening, bowling alleys are not yet able to resume operations despite creating practical plans that would help to ensure the safety of patrons and employees. I am urging the state to provide the guidance needed for these and similar businesses to reopen soon with the appropriate safety protocols in place so that they can continue to contribute to our communities for many more years to come.”
“Our small businesses continue to work hard to overcome tremendous COVID-19-related challenges,” Assemblyman Salka said. “This is especially the case for bowling alleys, billiard halls and similar venues that have not been able to open during this public health crisis. These business owners need guidance from the state now so that they can reopen safely and prevent their businesses from shutting down for good.”
“The New York proprietors have joined together with other bowling centers in state for interviews and conferences,” LaPolla said. “We are ready with our protocols and guidelines that the state will give us. League bowlers will be aware of all guidelines through meetings before the season starts. Bowlers will follow rules before coming into establishments. We are running out of money through payments of utilities, lease, insurance and other necessary bills.”
“I appreciate the efforts of our state lawmakers to advocate on the behalf of our local bowling alleys,” Vogel said. “Bowling centers are spacious and uniquely able to provide more than 11 feet of space between our bowlers. We are committed to safely providing a clean and sanitized center for our valued customers, employees, and family members as we maneuver this difficult time in business.”