After almost five months of lockdown, the UK’s bowling centres were permitted to welcome back customers. And it was an easing of lockdown that met with approval from all quarters.
The UK’s bowling centres breathed a collective sigh of relief last Friday, as the government confirmed that they would be permitted to open on August 15 for the first time since the institution of lockdown.
Shares in two of the country’s largest operators, Hollywood Bowl and Ten Entertainment, were up by 7.9 per cent and 4.1 per cent upon news of the re-opening, with Ten Entertainment later confirming that it planned to open 35 (of its total 39) venues as of 10am last Saturday.
Bowling alleys were lumped in with casinos and ice-rinks as high-footfall leisure deemed too risky to open until August 1. The government later revised this re-opening date (at the very last minute) to August 15 “at the earliest,” leaving the affected sectors in considerable doubt as to exactly when they might resume operation.
Little wonder then, that Hollywood Bowl chief executive Stephen Burns said that it was a “great relief to finally have clarity on when we can re-open after such unexpected and long delays.”
“We’ve been ready to reopen in the fully government-approved Covid-secure way for many weeks and our trained teams are eager to get back to work,” he went on. “Our centres are spacious and well-suited for social distancing, and we’ve put in place wide-ranging hygiene and sanitisation measures.”
Ten Entertainment head Nick Basing echoed these sentiments, saying that the company was “fully prepared and looking forward to bringing people and families together…in a very safe way.”
“The Government has delivered extraordinary levels of support enabling businesses like ours to endure the crisis and emerge intact to restart and rebuild from here,” he added. “We can, in turn, assist in ensuring that families and people of all ages can enjoy the bowling experience safely, together again.”
CLACTON, SKEGNESS AND NAMCO FUNSCAPE BENEFIT FROM LEISURE OPENINGS
Saturday’s raft of leisure reopenings came as particularly good news for Clacton Pier, where management were permitted to re-open the attraction’s indoor offering – inclusive of its Discovery Bay play centre and Lanes Bowling alley. An announcement on the pier’s Facebook page said: “We are pleased to announce that Discovery Bay and Lanes Bowling will reopen on Saturday 15th August at 10am. The team have been working hard to ensure we are ready and we have put extra measures in place to ensure you have a fun safe day, from enhanced cleaning to social increased distancing measures.”
At Namco Funscape, little time was wasted getting back into action. It posted immediately after the government’s announcement: “Bowling is back! Today we are pleased to announce that all our locations are back open for bowling. Book online here https://bit.ly/3fTLrJ9 Watch the video below to find out how we have made changes to out sites to welcome you back. Meanwhile in Skegness, the pier took a prudent line on re-opening, although bowling was back immediately. “Following the government’s latest announcement we are pleased to announce that as of tomorrow we are able to open our BOWLING LANES!!!,” it posted. “We will be operating at a reduced capacity so we advise you to book online in advance to avoid disappointment!” But the pier held back on soft play areas: “Although it has been announced that soft play can open; at this moment in time we have decided not to open Captain Kids Adventureworld. We want to ensure that when we do open; all children and staff are as safe as possible. This will take time to put protocols in place and train the staff accordingly; please follow us for updates, but currently we want your safety to come first!!”