Montana bowling alleys meeting to draft COVID-19 reopening plan

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Posted at 7:36 AM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 09:36:37-04

BOZEMAN — Restaurants, bars -- and most recently -- gyms are a few businesses that have been allowed to reopen their doors with some restrictions, but one that isn’t allowed to get back up and running yet: bowling alleys.

Bowling alley proprietors across the state are headed to Helena on Tuesday to work on a unified action plan that they will give to Gov. Steve Bullock's Office on why they should be allowed to reopen under the first phase of Montana’s reopening.

All 53 bowling alleys in Montana have been invited to attend. They believe they can comply with all of the concerns of the state health department to fit the criteria for reopening.

For example, creating social distancing by using every other lane, providing additional sanitation of the bowling balls and shoes, and lowering their allowed occupancy.

Originally, bowling alleys were set for possibly reopening in phase two of Gov. Bullock’s plan, much like gyms, museums, and movie theaters. But when Gov. Bullock revised phase one to include the latter three businesses, bowling alleys were left off the list.

Bowling alleys have been permitted to open their bar areas and their casino machines inside the building as part of phase one, but not the actual bowling lanes, which obviously is their main draw.

Multiple petitions across the state have gathered thousands of signatures to support local bowling alleys to reopen their doors.

Montana bowling alley proprietors say they are looking for a unified action plan that will best serve the needs of all businesses, from those with 20 or more lanes to the smaller operations with only a few lanes.