Diane Horowitz was dropping off some supplies at Dani’s Strike Zone, in Elmont, on Aug. 15 — the first day she ventured out into the community since Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York on Pause order went into effect in March — when one of her employees said, “You must be so happy.” That’s how Horowitz found out that bowling alleys would be allowed to reopen the following Monday, according to another announcement from the governor.
Fortunately, Horowitz, who owns the Strike Zone, was prepared. She spent the nearly six months that it was closed ordering a slew of safety measures for its grand reopening, including:
Plexiglas shields for the front desk and tables.
Six-and-a-half-foot-tall partitions to be installed between lanes.
A thermometer to check bowlers’ temperatures when they walk in.
A new air-filtration system.
Ultraviolet lights to sanitize the register and employees’ masks.
40 gallons of sanitizing alcohol.
1,700 cleaning wipes.
Horowitz also bought a vacuum to clean newly installed carpeting, washed the ball-return equipment, waxed the floors, put plastic wrap around the vending machine and lane consoles, and equipped employees with bags containing hand sanitizer, face shields, masks and gloves.
“I did everything that I could possibly think of,” Horowitz said. “I just want everyone to be safe.”
The renovations weren’t cheap, however, and Horowitz said her bills have been “unbelievable.” She closed the alley about a week before Cuomo’s shutdown order went into effect, out of an abundance of caution, she explained, and continued to pay her 20 employees for a few weeks until she ran out of money. Still, they all agreed to come back to work on Aug. 17.
Now everyone who walks into the bowling alley, on Village Avenue, must wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose, and stay in their own lane. No one is allowed to use the bar, concession stand or arcade, and anything anyone touches is immediately sanitized.
The nearly two dozen people who bowled on Aug. 20, three days after the Strike Zone officially reopened, didn’t seem to mind the changes, and kept their distance while throwing spares and strikes. “It’s slow,” Horowitz said of the business since it reopened, “but it’s fun.”
But bowling alleys aren’t the only recreation centers that are now allowed to open. Cuomo also announced on Aug. 17 that gyms could reopen on Monday, pending inspection by local authorities. The facilities must maintain 22 percent capacity, with masks required at all times and ventilation that meets state mandates.
Crews could be seen cleaning the floors and windows at Synergy Fitness, on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square, last Thursday, and representatives had posted on social media that they were “working very diligently” to meet all of the safety protocols “in order to provide you with a safe environment and allow you to resume your exercise routine and the healthy lifestyle that characterizes you.”
They did not have an official reopening date as of press time, but wrote, “We appreciate your patience as we continue to develop and implement the new approach in which our services will be offered.”
Michael Corleone, a Franklin Square resident who owns Kayo Boxing in West Hempstead, had already sprayed and sanitized his facility, and was in the process of getting new filters for the gym. He had also installed a hands-free hand sanitizing station, and spaced the punching bags to adhere to social distancing protocols.
Every kickboxer must call ahead to register for a class, and anyone who is late forfeits their spot. Everyone must also have their own boxing gloves, water bottles and towels, and will be required to wear a mask at all times.
When patrons arrive at Kayo, they will be required to use hand sanitizer, have their temperatures taken and answer a four-question Covid symptom survey. Then, when a class is over, participants will once again use hand sanitizer and will leave the gym single file.
“I only hope that people start flocking back to the gym,” Corleone said, “but I understand that so much has changed because of the pandemic.”
A gym owner for 16 years, he said that he lost a lot of money during the lockdown, but was fortunate that his landlord was willing to work with him, since he regularly pays his rent on time.
“I feel bad for the businesses that weren’t able to handle this meltdown,” Corleone said. “Because we’re a small business where I only have one employee, we’re not eligible to get loans and grants.”
The fact that he is active on social media, he said, has helped keep his regulars informed about the gym. “The only thing that I can hope for is that the community shops locally,” Corleone said. “It’s more important now than ever before.”