City’s bowling alley bosses calling on government to allow them to open up

Hollywood Bowl at Peterborough is still closed due to lockdown restrictions. EMN-200907-144849001Hollywood Bowl at Peterborough is still closed due to lockdown restrictions. EMN-200907-144849001
Hollywood Bowl at Peterborough is still closed due to lockdown restrictions. EMN-200907-144849001
Hollywood Bowl, the UK’s biggest operator of ten-pin bowling centres, is today leading the charge in urging the Government to get Britain back bowling immediately or risk industry job losses and business closures.

The company, which operates a bowling alley at Bretton in Peterborough is launching a campaign, titled, #BringBackBowling, after ten-pin bowling centres were not able to reopen along with other leisure and hospitality businesses on July 4.

Despite industry-wide adherence to government social distancing and COVID secure guidelines to ensure centres were safe and ready to welcome back customers, the doors remain closed due to ongoing government restrictions.

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Hollywood Bowl, together with the Ten Pin Bowling Proprietors Association, UK Hospitality and other bowling business owners, are urging the government to reconsider their position to protect 8,000 industry-wide jobs, many currently on furlough, and bowling centre closures.

Hollywood Bowl at Brettobn, Peterborough. EMN-200907-144909001Hollywood Bowl at Brettobn, Peterborough. EMN-200907-144909001
Hollywood Bowl at Brettobn, Peterborough. EMN-200907-144909001

Stephen Burns, Chief Executive at Hollywood Bowl Group, with 1,900 employees and 60 centres across the UK, says they and the industry are at risk. He said: “Ten-pin bowling is a sector that is ready to operate in a COVID secure manner. We have worked incredibly hard to ensure we are adhering to the operational protocols around social distancing policies, capacity management and sanitisation and are more than ready to welcome back friends and families to enjoy themselves in a fun and safe environment within our spacious centres.”

In 2019, the industry’s value to the UK economy was said to be £310 million. At the heart of the community, Mr Burns says ten-pin bowling centres are often anchor tenants in larger leisure and retail parks, meaning they also boost other businesses such as nearby shops and casual-dining restaurants. In keeping ten-pin bowling centres closed, he says that not only are thousands of families missing out on an affordable, fun activity that they can all enjoy together, but other local businesses also suffer despite being allowed to reopen.

He highlights other factors in favour of ten-pin bowling centres being allowed to open - they are well-ventilated, large, open spaces meaning they can be easily adapted for social distancing. Hollywood Bowl centres, as an example, average around 29,000 sq ft in size. He says bowling balls are made of low-risk material, being non-porous and easy to sanitise between games.

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The bowling industry is finding the rules confusing and disappointing. Gary Brimble, General Secretary at the TBPA adds: “Bowling centres have been closed for more than three months and fully expected to be reopening with other hospitality and leisure businesses on July 4. Our COVID-safe measures allow for a safe environment for both our customers and staff and our spacious layouts are easily adapted for social distancing. Let’s get bowling again, bring some fun back for our customers, protect the jobs of the 8,000 staff and prevent the closure of many bowling centres.”

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