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Family Entertainment Centers Prepare For March Reopening Under New York's Strict COVID Safety Protocols

LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- At long last, family entertainment centers will soon reopen in New York after being completely shuttered for nearly a year.

But how will they maintain COVID safety?

The owners of Laser Bounce on Long Island are more than ready to let the fun resume. They haven't made a dime or seen a kid's smile in nearly a year, yet have poured more than $100,000 into into COVID safety.

"We have gone above and beyond to make sure our customers are safe, and when they come here it's now cleaner and safer than ever," Laser Bounce's Ryan Damico told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff.

Indoor family entertainment centers may reopen on March 26 with strict protocols that include:

  • check-in to assure contact tracing,
  • face coverings,
  • social distancing,
  • touch points consistently disinfected,
  • air filtration,
  • hands-free payment,
  • and infrared temperature monitoring.

"It's completely non-invasive. You walk right past it. You won't even know you had your temperature checked," Damico said.

Capacity is capped at 25%, which some owners call an injustice.

"Bowling alleys were allowed to open at 50%, we are at 25%. We can't keep the doors open at 25%," said Laser Bounce owner Joe Damico. "It's a smack in the face to open at those numbers."

Surrounding states allowed these businesses to reopen over the summer, which the owner of Urban Air in Lake Grove said proves it's safe.

"Served 4 million guests over the last eight months, and employees, without a reported case traced back to our park. We are safe," said David Wolmetz, who co-owns Urban Air.

Wolmetz is grateful for the green light, amid worry it's too little too late. Forty-five indoor venues are still suing New York over the shutdown orders.

Outdoor venues will be allowed to reopen at 33%.

Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for the Cuomo Administration, said in a statement to CBS2:

We understand that everyone wants to reopen as much as possible as quickly as possible -- and we share that goal, as long as it can be done safely. We are still fighting a deadly pandemic and every industry that's reopened has to follow detailed public health guidance, including capacity restrictions. This public health crisis isn't over, and these rules help stop the spread of COVID, saving lives and helping keep businesses open.

The owner of Advenureland says extra staff will be needed to ensure COVID safety.

"For our park that's been there since 1962, it will be a whole new environment," said Steven Gentile, Adventureland's owner. "It will be a whole new business model, so to speak, and we are prepared for it... and we are happy to implement it."

Many of these businesses received money from the federal paycheck protection program. But much of the money must be paid back.

They're asking for a federal grant program, like one that's helping shuttered performance venues, so they can bounce back, too.

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