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Over the past several months, everyone has had to play a different ball game thanks to COVID-19. Things have loosened up since May, when Virginia started its process of reopening the state. One of the athletic establishments affected by the pandemic has been bowling alleys. There are several alleys located in Fairfax County. One of the biggest chains is Bowl America.

As with all businesses that have reopened, Bowl America has implemented rules to maintain a safe environment. Bowling balls are cleaned repeatedly, as are bathrooms. The Fairfax location separates each group of patrons by one bowling lane to comply with social distancing guidelines. Each location is opened on a limited basis, every Friday through Sunday after being shut down for four months.

Bowling tournaments will still be held at Bowl America, with COVID-19 induced guidelines. There are two options for play. In the first, two teams operate next to each other while the other teams are two lanes away. The second option is for each team to be separated by one lane. With all of the rapid changes due to the pandemic, these rules are subject to change. These bowling alleys have leagues and tournaments in early September in the Richmond locations.

Moe Garcia, Assistant Manager of Bowl America’s Burke location, wants bowlers to feel safe. “This is an interesting reality,” Garcia said. Most of the patrons have been compliant with the new rules, such as their no mask, no service policy.

According to Cyndi Miller, Assistant Manager of Bowl America’s Fairfax location, “about 98% of the customers play along without complaining.” If a patron is unable to wear a mask for medical reasons, that person is placed at an isolated lane.

“We know it’ll take time before our customers come back in full force,” said Cheryl Dragoo, the President and C.E.O. of Bowl America. Their goal is to maintain business as usual. “[We hope] people will tell others about their experiences at Bowl America to drive more business up,” Dragoo said.

On the customer side of things, one patron, Jennifer Dempsey, believes that Bowl America is doing a good job. “They’re doing great at keeping things clean,” she said. Dempsey also added that the new rules are “pretty easy for everyone to follow.”

As Bowl America continues to remain open, maybe this will be another positive outlet for those in town.  

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