This week saw bingo halls reopen for the first time in months following the pandemic – including Buzz Bingo in Gloucester.
Like most businesses bingo halls want to encourage customers back while also making sure they are following all the Government guidelines regarding social distancing etc. and on Thursday, August 6, Buzz Bingo in Peel Centre reopened for the first time since March and we went down to see what it was like now.
In the days leading up to its reopening, Gloucester’s Buzz Bingo has been sharing videos on Facebook advising customers on what they can expect when they come back including opening times and prices.
There are a number of sessions throughout the day including breakfast, lunch and evening sessions and we headed down to the evening session on their first day of opening to see what has changed.
When you arrive at the bingo hall opposite Gloucester Quays’ car park there are social distancing stickers by the door, and you are greeted by a host who advises you to wait on a designated spot until you are called forward.
There is a hand sanitising station by the entrance and once the host allows you in, you are then directed to the book sales once it is clear.
The staff working at books sales are behind perspex screens and social distancing stickers are dotted around the venue.
You then head into the main bingo hall where perhaps some of the biggest changes have been made.
Like most bingo halls, the seats in Buzz Bingo are booth-like and with social distancing in mind have been separated into sections including single people and then household and group sections.
And stickers have been placed at certain seats in order to limit the contact between people. – if there is more than one of you then this can pose a problem as there is limited seating for more than one person so arrive early if you intend to sit with people from your social bubble.
What’s more, if you are sat in a section which has been taped off for social distancing then you will be asked to move, and the table will be disinfected by a member of staff.
There are also signs located around the hall asking people to be patient and kind in these unusual times as well as reminding bingo players of the social distancing rules.
Another major change that has been implemented at the bingo is how your food is delivered. Like before, you head to the bar – which is now behind a perspex screen – and order as usual, giving your table number.
But then when your food is delivered to your table by a staff member in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – including a mask, apron and gloves – it is placed on a nearby empty table for you to then collect.
Other than that, the majority of the bingo session is much of the same.
Then once the session is over, the caller announces that all belongings that aren’t yours are to be left on the table that you were sat at.
This includes rubbish, plates and trays from food orders and electronic bingo cards for example.
When leaving you are reminded of the rules of social distancing and are asked to be patient and take your time which on the whole most people did.
All in all – despite not winning a penny – it was a relatively easy-going experience and arguably one of the best ways to ease yourself back into ‘normal life’ as the venue is large and airy, there are multiple exits and the seating is laid out in an efficient, socially distanced way.