Bowling alleys, movie theaters brace for another shutdown amid surge in COVID-19

As COVID-19 cases continue to multiply in Michigan, businesses that cater more towards social crowds are facing at least three weeks of closure and possibly more.

It's not just restaurants but bowling alleys and movie theaters are all closed starting Wednesday morning, under a health order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The order takes effect on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and is different from the blanket stay-home order issued in the spring. However, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and casinos are all being forced to close for three weeks.

Many of these businesses were still trying to make up for losses already incurred during the spring shutdown. Now they're looking at another one.

The three-week pause is meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. Dining in has been closed, as are casinos, movie theaters, and bowling alleys - among others.

"I believe in free will, if the people want to come out and bowl, let them bowl," Plum Hollow Lanes General Manager Carmeletha Allen said.

Tuesday, with hours before the shutdown goes into effect, many businesses are getting things in order and dealing with perishable items. Unlike restaurants that can continue to pull in revenue through carry-out service - businesses like theaters and bowling alleys have few options for other revenue.

At Phoenix Movie Theaters, revenue from gift cards will help keep them afloat during the three-week shutdown. But Cory Jacobson, who owns Phoenix Theaters in several states including Michigan and Iowa, believes the shutdown is unjustified.

"Worldwide, there’s been not been one reported case the virus that has emanated from a theater," he said. "Iowa has a 50% capacity limitation, we haven't had any problems there, we haven't had any problems in Michigan."

Jacobson believes the three-week shutdown will be extended because of holiday gatherings causing infection rates to increase. That has him concerned about his industry surviving another extended shutdown.

The two business leaders want government officials to do more than execute shutdowns

"If you are going to shut us down like this, you've got to find us some money because we've got to survive," Allen said. 

"Save our stages is now part of (the) Cares Act. We really need Congress to act and act now because we can't wait any longer," Jacobson said.