The guidelines for re-opening put in place by Gov. Andy Beshear have left many local businesses in an extremely unusual position.

Just ask Raymond White, the general manager of the Galaxy Bowling Center in Richmond.

"It's really bizarre to run a business with your goal to do less business," White said.

Galaxy is back in business, but things certainly are very much different.

The facility was forced to close on March 16 because of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kentucky. The bowling center finally opened back up on Monday — after 71 days without a customer.

The shutdown of non-essential businesses caused by the pandemic had a big impact on the entertainment center.

"This happened at the busiest time of the year for us," said Lucas Combs, operations manager at Galaxy.

More than 10 weeks without revenue certainly resulted in severe financial losses.

"It cost us several hundreds of thousands of dollars," White said.

White and Combs hope to get the business back on track.

It's not easy, though, trying to comply with the current recommendations from the governor's office and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The bowling center is only able to use every other lane, cutting its capacity in half. The staff also has to sanitize every ball in addition to the tables, ball returns and all other surfaces around each of the lanes after every customer.

Bowlers are limited to one hour on a lane. The business is not booking any birthday parties. Hand sanitizer has been made available and the bathrooms are cleaned regularly.

The facilities arcade is also being sanitized frequently and the games have even been moved further apart.

"We are encouraging people to make reservations, but we are not going to turn someone away who walks up," Combs said. "At this point you welcome business back as you can control it."

The staff at Galaxy has already discovered just how difficult it can be to control a re-opening.

The entertainment center also has a restaurant/longe — Champions Bar and Grill — which was allowed to open at 33% capacity on Friday, May 22.

On the first night, the restaurant was overwhelmed with eager customers.

"We had two options," White said. "We could have said, 'Hey, this is great. Let's do twice as much tomorrow night.' Or we could have cut it back. And we cut it back."

White and his staff decided not to books bands at the facility, to limit the hours of the bar and require that customers purchase food, not just drink.

They hope that experience will help the re-opening of the bowling center go more smoothly.

"The real test will be this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We will see how it goes," White said of the re-opening of the bowling center.

Galaxy had to furlough 23 employees in March. The remaining staff was kept on and put to work making improvements.

"We kept six employees and we had them doing things like putting up plexiglass, painting and doing maintenance and stuff like that," White said.

Some of the furloughed employees have already returned.

They hope to bring back more, soon.

All of the staff will wear masks and gloves while at work.

Galaxy, though, is not requiring that customers do the same.

"We would like them to do it, but it's not mandatory," White said of masks and gloves.

Some of Galaxy's most frequent visitors will also return soon.

League bowling is set to start next week, but there will be changes to their routine as well.

Each league will be limited to 16 teams and bowlers will once again be limited to every other lane.

"Leagues usually use two lanes and they alternate," Combs said. "They are going to have to use just one lane. You will have someone on Lane 1 bowling against someone on Lane 3."

Leagues will take the lanes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

On June 28, a new set of guidelines will be put in place, allowing bars to allow 50% capacity.

Moving forward, the restrictions will continue to change, and business like Galaxy will have to keep adapting.

"We will make more adjustments," White said.

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