On Wednesday, the second phase of “reopening” Connecticut begins with movie theaters, bowling alleys, amusement parks and other businesses able to open again.
Most businesses closed in mid-March under a mandate from the governor’s office intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Starting Wednesday, museums, social clubs, libraries, sports complexes, gyms, pools and hotels can also reopen. Restaurants can also begin offering indoor dining.
The second phase was originally scheduled to start June 20, but was moved up because of Father’s Day weekend.
“To avoid having Phase 2 of Connecticut’s reopening efforts take effect during a busy Father’s Day weekend, we’re going to move it up a few days earlier to June 17,” Gov. Ned Lamont tweeted on June 5. “Our public health professionals are continuing to monitor test results for possible links to large demonstrations, but as long as COVID hospitalizations and infection rates remain low, we will be in a very good position for a June 17 Phase 2.”
Todd Turcotte, owner of Highland Bowling in Cheshire, said he plans to open at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
“Our industry has gone out of its way, throughout the country, to make sure that people can feel safe in getting out of the house and doing recreation with their families,” he said.
While closed, the alley underwent some renovations, including a new touchless scoring system that was planned for some time but was accelerated by the pandemic.
When arriving, they can approach the front desk as usual to reserve a lane. Staff will enter the bowlers’ names into the scoring system directly.
Customers will be required to wear socks when renting shoes— which Turcotte said will continue to be disinfected after every use— and must have a mask on at all times except when bowling.
Each party will get a set of bowling balls. After use, Turcotte said they will be taken out of rotation to be disinfected. In accordance with the governor’s guidelines, hand sanitizing stations are set up throughout the alley and at each lane.
You can now also pre-pay for lanes online. Touchless systems are in the works for the restrooms and the arcade will open at a later date.
Turcotte said the scary part is spending thousands to meet regulations and keep everyone safe, while not knowing how much business he will have.
Bowling alleys, and all indoor recreation facilities, are allowed to open at 50 percent of normal capacity. The same rule applies for indoor dining as well.
At the Picture Show in Berlin, movies will continue outdoors as management prepares indoor showings again. Bria Naylor, marketing manager for Picture Show Entertainment, said they don’t have a reopening date to announce.
She said the drive-in setup has been popular since opening June 5.
“It’s been super exciting and a lot of fun to finally get back to playing some movies,” Naylor said.
Besides keeping up with safety guidelines, theaters have the added complexity of getting new movies to show.
“There was a total stop to releases … Because Hollywood is taking their time and kind of watching their environment, the economy and what people want to do right now …,” she said.
The next planned new releases aren’t until July. Until then, the theater will continue showing family favorites, old classics and horror — largely based on audience requests.
The theater’s parking lot can fit 43 cars, which park every other space. To minimize contact with others, customers have to order and pay for concessions on smartphones. A staff member delivers the food.
Customers don’t have to wear face masks while in vehicles, but are required to put one on if using the restroom.
In general, any businesses planning to open in phase two must follow guidelines from the governor’s office regarding all factors of business, including the use of face masks and other personal protection equipment, thorough cleaning, training of employees on new procedures, capacity tracking, maintaining an employee log, social distancing guests and offering touchless or contactless services.
Wallingford’s Holiday Cinemas Stadium 14 owner Robert LaFlamme said the North Colony Road theater plans to open July 10.