CHICAGO (CBS) — Going bowling now means thinking about the letter ”s” three times; strikes, spares, sanitizing. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us inside a suburban bowling alley, where just walking in the door looks different in the coronavirus era.
The alley is rumbling back to life at Poplar Creek Bowl in Hoffman Estates, now that Illinois has move into Phase 4 of its reopening plan, and bowlers are making their thunderous return.
Danielle Vavra was ecstatic on her first day back to the bowling alley with the Glitter Girls.
“We were so happy to see everybody, because we haven’t seen anybody in so long, and now that they’re open again, we get to come back!” she said.
Her daughter’s Special Olympics team practiced at Poplar Creek Bowl weekly until March’s shutdown. Now they’re training at a safe social distance from other groups. Masks aren’t required when at your lane, but that’s after an intricate entry procedure.
A guided multi-step process directs customers to a health screening, then a sanitizer station, then a high-tech temperature check. Management even created a new position: sanitation specialist.
“Two shifts; and their one job is to come in, follow a check-list, and repeat,” general manager Diane Marinelli said.
Marinelli could only offer a simple guess at how much Poplar Creek’s owner spent on all the changes for COVID-19: “a lot.”
Marinelli is not only juggling Phase 4 recreation rules, but also restaurant guidelines.
“We have really jumped through so many hoops to just get here today,” she said.
There’s also fear about tomorrow, with COVID-19 surging again in other parts of the U.S., prompting some states to roll back their reopening plans.
“I can’t imagine what it will do, not to just us, but all the other people who have to experience this again, who did so much and spent so much just to get the doors open,” Marinelli said.
If she would be forced to shut down again, she’d lose food that’s already ordered. She also worries for staff that just started making money again.
But the vibe remains optimistic at Poplar Creek. Summer leagues begin next week.
“We have people calling and asking to have birthday parties,” Marinelli said.
The Glitter Girls will definitely be back; their Thursday tradition spared.
“I feel very safe here,” Vavra said.
Phase 4 of the Illinois reopening plan caps the number of bowlers allowed at any one facility at 50 people, or 50% of normal capacity, whichever is lower.
Poplar Creek management and other alley owners are fighting to change that guideline to simply 50% of normal capacity, so that larger bowling alleys can allow more than 50 people if they have space to allow for proper social distancing with that many people.