Bingo halls reopen, some owners question initial closure

The four-week reset was tough for the industry
Microphones and other surfaces are sanitized between uses at Tudor Bingo
Microphones and other surfaces are sanitized between uses at Tudor Bingo(KTUU)
Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 10:17 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It was a busy day at Tudor Bingo Friday, the first day open since the four-week reset ended, but while the tables weren’t empty, the owner, John Powers, said it’s a ways off from where it used to be.

“It’s very limited,” he said. “The headcounts are at least 50% of what they would normally be.”

But the lower numbers do make it a bit easier to keep a distance, as does the size of the building, 20,000 square feet.

“It’s kind of a self-regulating — or self-limiting I should say — situation,” John Powers said.

Beyond distancing, hand sanitizer is posted around the building, tablets and other surfaces are sanitized between uses.

“There’s people running around constantly cleaning, cleaning and cleaning the ATM machine cleaning terminals, cleaning pretty much anything that anyone touches,” he said.

John Powers added all of that seems to work. So far, there’s been no reported clusters of COVID-19 cases inside Alaska bingo halls, even before the reset, which is why he and his wife, Sandy Powers, another bingo hall owner, argue they never should have been shut down in the first place.

“Our businesses and our staff were sacrificed for four weeks, and we are not a big contributor to the numbers, none of the bingo halls,” Sandy Powers said.

Although during the reset, John Powers did get creative to accommodate some outdoor play.

“We were fortunate enough that we were able to get our equipment to function and work outside the building,” he said.

But they were the only bingo hall in town to pull that off, and with winter quickly approaching, they worry what another shutdown would do to the industry.

“We kinda dodged a bullet there, but if we’d have had to close, again, that would’ve been devastating if we hadn’t come up with curbside bingo,” John Powers said.

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