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Bowling Centers Associations of Michigan Sues Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Demands to Reopen

— August 10, 2020

Bowling Centers Associations of Michigan and five bowling alleys are suing Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a move to reopen bowling alleys across the state.

After being forced to remain closed for months, the Bowling Centers Associations of Michigan, along with five bowling alleys, decided to sue Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) in an effort to get bowling alleys across the state back up and running. According to the suit, the governor’s executive order keeping bowling alleys shuttered are unconstitutional and should therefore be overturned.

The suit was filed earlier today in Grand Rapids federal court. The Bowling Centers Associations of Michigan represets 165 bowling alleys across the state and names Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel as defendants. In filing the suit, the plaintiffs are asking a judge to “order the state to allow them to reopen without facing penalties.” When commenting on the current situation, Bo Goergen, the Executive Director of Bowling Centers Association of Michigan said he’s “dumbfounded that other sectors in Michigan have been able to reopen while bowling is left in limbo.” He added:

“I can go get a haircut and get my nails done. I can get a full-hour body massage. I can have a dentist put his hands in my mouth…and now I can go to a casino – but I can’t open up a bowling center? Pretty frustrating.”

It’s worth noting that bowling alleys in Michigan’s Regions 6 and 8 in the northern part of the state are permitted to open, but the rest of the state is out of luck. Additionally, bowling alleys have been allowed to reopen in 45 other states, according to the suit.

Current Michigan Gov. and former Ford School faculty Gretchen Whitmer delivering a speech in 2015. Image via Flickr/user:FordSchool. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Bowling alleys were forced to close when Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-160. According to the order, bowling alleys, along with “amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, indoor climbing facilities, indoor dance areas, skating rinks, trampoline parks and water parks must remain closed.” However, the order does permit professional sports to resume, including professional bowling. The suit argues that “it doesn’t make sense to allow for professional bowling but keep recreational bowling banned.” Additionally, the suit questions why “personal care services like barbershops and nail salons can open, but bowling alleys can’t.” The suit further states:

“By their very nature, these services require personal physical contact between the vendor and the customer.”

On top of that, the suit argues the ‘indicators’ Whitmer is relying on to make her decisions on what is and is not allowed to reopen is “arbitrary, vague and objectively unreasonable…Whitmer’s measures have been effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, per the lawsuit, and are no longer necessary due to lower case counts and hospitalizations.” It states, “There is no longer an acute emergency posed by COVID-19.”

The plaintiffs also argue that bowling alleys, like other industries, are able to reopen safely. In fact, the Bowling Centers Associations of Michigan “submitted a guidebook to Whitmer about the precautions they plan to take to keep customers and employees safe – like capacity limits, plexiglass barriers and extra sanitizing of shoes and bowling balls – weeks ago, but received no response.”

In addition to the Bowling Centers Associations of Michigan, five bowling centers are named as plaintiffs in the suit, including Forest View Lanes in Temperance, Spartan West Bowling Center in Ludington, Royal Scot Golf and Bowl in Lansing, Spectrum Lanes in Wyoming and Merri Bowl in Livonia. In addition to asking the court for permission to reopen, the plaintiffs want the court to “deem Executive Order 2020-160 unconstitutional – citing the 5th and 14th amendments.”


If salons can open, so should bowling alleys, owners argue in lawsuit against Whitmer

Michigan bowling alley owners file lawsuit against Gov. Whitmer


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