Managers at Hollywood Bowl were in tears after being forced to scrap their reopening plans, and fearing they might lose their jobs, the boss of the company has told The Gazette.

The town's bowling site was meant to be reopening today (Saturday, August 8), but has been forced to put its plans on pause after the Government delayed further easing of lockdown restrictions which would have allowed bowling alleys to reopen.

Initially, bowling alleys were allowed to reopen from August 1, but were given just 24 hours notice in the change of plan by the Government, which announced on July 31 bowling alleys would no longer be allowed to open after an increase in coronavirus cases.

Last week alone, it cost the retailer £250,000 for all of the stock needed to reopen 54 out of 60 bowling sites across the UK, including Basingstoke.

And chief operating officer at Hollywood Bowls, Darryl Lewis, has expressed his “disappointment” at the majority of the centres remaining closed.

But the retailer has permitted two of its bowling centres in Wales, and four in Scotland to reopen.

Employing 2,000 employees across all the centres nationwide, Darryl said: "It will be difficult to keep all the 30 team members in Basingstoke since they were first furloughed in March.

“Everyone was super excited and now it is incredibly disappointing that after all the hard work we cannot reopen on Saturday.

“Customers are incredibly disappointed, and as confused as we are about why we can’t reopen.

“People have been unable to do these activities for nearly 20 weeks.

“Customers in Basingstoke will be missing bowling and it’s a great place to relax with the family.”

Darryl is concerned that his “safety net” is running out after five months of being closed.

Speaking about the impact of remaining closed, Darryl said: “Our customers will start losing confidence in bowling and we don’t want that to happen.

“We have created the safest environment that we can and with all of these false dawns we get people really geared up and excited about reopening and then to have it stopped at the last minute is very disappointing.

“We will have to spend all that money to get the business re set up; we will have to spend that again a few days before we have to reopen because it is super important the place is clean and tidy so that customers can come in and play safe.”

The Government told Hollywood Bowl 24 hours beforehand that they could not reopen.

Hosting a meeting and announcing the devastating news after the Government’s announcement, Darryl said that "managers on the call were in tears" after all of their had work had amounted to nothing.

“It’s a once in a generation thing; we fully understand the Government have a big role in keeping the public safe, and I appreciate everything they have done for us, however, real clarity for when we can reopen is needed,” Darryl continued.

Speaking about the business plan with furlough staff, he said that the company will have to make decisions about the “long term sustainable business plan”.

Darryl is hopeful that the Government will reopen Hollywood Bowl mid-August but is still waiting for the go ahead.

“We are set up and raring to go and cannot wait to welcome back the people of Basingstoke to bowling.

“As soon as we get the nod from the Government, we will open people back with open arms.

“It will still be the fantastic game of bowling that people love to do,” he explained.