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Bowling alleys, skating rinks allowed to reopen in Portland metro area

The recreational businesses were previously not allowed to reopen in Phase 1 of Oregon's reopening plan. Health officials announced a change Thursday.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Bowling alleys and skating rinks will be allowed to reopen in the Portland metro area for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut the businesses down seven months ago.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) revisited its rules and announced Thursday night that the two types of businesses could reopen in Phase 1 counties, which were they previously not allowed to do. Only four counties in Oregon are still in Phase 1: Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Malheur. Every other county is in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan

OHA also released safety guidelines the businesses must follow. There must be at least 6 feet between groups of people. There can be no more than 10 people in a group and total capacity is limited to 50 people, including staff. Employees and visitors must follow the state’s face mask rules. The businesses must also close by 10 p.m.

Click here for the full guidance for bowling alleys and skating rinks

It's a welcome change for owners who believed the previous restrictions unfairly kept their businesses closed. Gyms, arcades and other similar businesses were allowed to reopen when counties first entered Phase 1 in the late spring and early summer.

“I just need [elected officials] to know that there are bowling people in the tri-county area that are struggling hard,” Tigard Bowl co-owner Mark Pearl told KGW on Tuesday. “I mean this is our livelihood, it's our life.”

RELATED: 'This is our livelihood': Tigard Bowling alley struggles to survive amid COVID-19 closure

OHA said it is evaluating other sectors that may still be closed under the state’s current Phase 1 restrictions.

RELATED: With COVID-19 cases again surging, Oregon updates face mask guidance