CALGARY — Some Calgary businesses that have been told to open at the end of Alberta’s relaunch program believe they should be bumped up a bit.
The manager of Toppler Bowl, a family-owned business for 25 years, says it would be simple for them to maintain social distancing between patrons and ensure sanitization measures are executed properly.
“Bowling is a socially distance sport,” says Stacey Sanderson, whose parents own the bowling alley. “We don’t have to use every lane. You can sanitize the balls of course and we all know we sanitize the shoes.”
Len Sbitney owns Leather Pocket Billiards in northeast Calgary and has been in the business for almost 20 years. He believes pool halls, especially for cue sports, should’ve been allowed to reopen sooner.
“I would’ve preferred Stage 1,” says Sbitney. “You can have people in bars and they are a lot closer together than we would ever have people together here.”
Both pool halls and bowling alleys fall under the umbrella of recreational facilities and, as such, are not allowed to reopen until Stage 3 of the province’s relaunch program. A date for the final stage will be determined based on the success of both Stage 1 and 2.
Sbtiney says the capacity in his sprawling pool hall, that can usually accommodate up to 95 patrons, could easily be reduced. That would allow for a safe distance between people.
“The players would have 150 to 200 square feet per table and it would be tournament-style with two players per table and each table gets sanitized after every use.”
Sbitney says he installed a sneeze guard among other safety measures and also has a professional machine that will clean the balls in between each game.
Like many businesses, Sbitney says the shutdown has severely hurt his bottom line. To stay afloat, he says he’s had to lay off eight of his nine staff members.
“This is devastating. It’s killing me,” he says. “It’s getting down to the crunch. We’re three months in and maybe I can last two more months.”
Sanderson is still hopeful her family’s 25-year-old bowling alley will survive, but says it will be difficult.
“It will take a long time to recover from it for sure,” she said.
While they wait to hear from the province for an update, the family is taking the opportunity of the down time to renovate.
“We’re ready to open we’re ready to go and provide the safety for the public and for the staff.”