PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With a second COVID-19 federal relief bill nowhere in sight and no timeline on when the tri-county area will move to Phase 2, small business owners are in a desperate situation.
Tigard Bowl first opened in 1954 in the city of Tigard. It’s been owned and operated by Mark Pearl and his wife for the last 25 years.
But the fun times veered into the gutter in mid-March when non-essential businesses were forced to close their doors in compliance with Gov. Kate Brown’s mandate.
Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties are the only three counties in Oregon still in the first phase of Brown’s reopening plan. Venues like bowling alleys, movie theaters, arcades and libraries remain closed.
But Pearl thinks bowling alleys can reopen safely. He told KOIN 6 News on Wednesday that large, open floor plans like those at bowling alleys provide space for physical distancing. Pearl also installed plexiglass between each lane and has a plan to regularly sanitize equipment.
“We have decked the place out,” he said. “We went way above and beyond anything they’ve asked.”
But Pearl and many business owners like him are still waiting in the wings. He said had to let go of all 10 employees in July, using federal relief money to give each of them two months’ of pay. He gave each employee another two months’ pay out of his own pocket.
“Whoever’s making these decisions about phases, I sure wish they’d just at least tell us ‘hey, we’re talking about a phase, maybe we’re going to look at the beginning of Phase 2 in December’ or anything,” said Pearl. “But they don’t say a word about any of it.”
Pearl said he’ll have to consider closing Tigard Bowl for good if nothing changes by November.
KOIN 6 News reached out to Brown’s office and received the following reply:
“Our primary focus when it comes to the pandemic is slowing the spread of COVID-19 across the state, and to bring down our infection rates so that more Oregon students can go back to school for in-person instruction. At this time, Multnomah County has not applied for Phase 2 of reopening, and it’s our understanding that the county shares our focus on meeting back-to-school metrics, so more children can return to school.”