Update – Wednesday 8 April 2020
First of all, we would like to thank all those families, customers, league bowlers, schools, charities, suppliers and people in the local community for your fantastic support. Especially the thousands of you that – in a matter of days – have signed our petition “Appeal For Urgent Action” and supported us on Facebook, Instagram, etc. AND, needless to say, a special thanks to our fantastic staff in these very uncertain times.
You haven’t signed our petition? You can do so here and don’t worry, we are not asking for your money, just your moral support: https://gobowlingnow.co.uk/gobowling-needs-your-support/
Whilst the past couple of weeks have been extremely hectic having been instructed by the Government to close our doors to the public on 20 March, we are now just waiting for our bank, NatWest, to respond to our request for a Government backed “Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme” loan (“CBILS”), but we are also approaching other non-Government controlled banks.
Everyone knows this is a major national emergency and that the situation is not going to get better anytime soon. The number of infected people and the number of deaths keep going up, which is both terrible and tragic. However, less covered by the press is the thousands of businesses going under each week and, as a result, the huge number of people losing their jobs and not being able to pay their bills, mortgages, etc.
To help businesses across the country, the Government put the very generous Government backed “Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme” (“CBILS”) in place with funds being made available immediately through most banks as of 23 March to save business like ours affected by the Coronavirus. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like our high-street banks have got the message yet…
And this is really bad news.
Forget GObowling, this is a much bigger problem for our country as a whole.
Go to any of the major banks’ websites and you really have to look out for any CBILS support offered by them. The big banks seem like they trying their best to avoid this scheme.
In a newspaper article on Friday, 3 April (2 working weeks after the Government’s generous CBILS was put in place, The Telegraph newspaper reported that “The BBB [British Business Bank – owned by the Government] did not report any loans made by Lloyds, Santander, Barclays or NatWest owner Royal Bank of Scotland…” AND “…BBB figures, which also suggest that fewer than 1,000 businesses have benefitted out of 130,000 expressions of interest…”. Needless to say, these numbers demonstrate an appalling response from the banks.
GObowling has been banking with NatWest (n.b.not the local branch) for 18 years. For the past 10 years, GObowling has not had any outstanding loans or overdrafts with NatWest or any other bank. After GObowling was instructed by the Government to close its doors to the public on 20 March, we applied to NatWest for a Government backed CBILS emergency loan in order to stay alive as a business, to look after our staff and – in the longer-term – continue to look after and provide a service to our customers and the local community.
If we don’t get access to such a CBILS loan soon GObowling will have to close its doors permanently – just like many other businesses in our community and nationwide.
We are critical of the banks’ slow response to providing the promised CBILS loans, not the Government itself. In fact, our local Member of Parliament for South West Bedfordshire, Andrew Selous www.andrewselous.org.uk, has been very quick to respond to our call for support and has been most helpful.
Whilst this is an update for GObowling, it is important to stress that our business is far from alone being in this situation. Unless the banks get a move-on and do their bit for the country and quickly, so many companies will needlessly go under and many more people will lose their jobs.
Update – Sunday 29th March 2020
On the 17th March, our last update, we stated “What a difference a couple of DAYS make”.
Well since then, it is more like “What a difference a couple of HOURS make”.
Since the 17th, it has been “somewhat chaotic” to put it mildly with GObowling being instructed on Friday the 20th by the government to close our doors to the public with only a couple of hours notice.
That said, we are not complaining. The world – let alone the UK – is in uncharted waters.
The government has had to react to an unprecedented emergency and, regardless of political affiliations, we feel it is important we all pull together as a nation, support each other, as well as support the government’s and the NHS efforts to confront this Coronavirus.
All we – and most other small businesses in the country – would like to see is the government putting more pressure on the banks to make the promised financial support measures available immediately. The gap between “making promises” and “delivering on those promises” are and will become increasingly destructive to our economy as companies are closing down and employees are being terminated every day solely because of these delays.
If the situation wasn’t so desperate for so many small companies, one could say that it is rather ironic that some of the banks that the government had to bail out roughly 10 years ago during the last financial crisis are also the ones named and shamed in the press as dragging their feet on providing the government’s various financial support schemes (especially our bank that, since the bailout, is controlled by the government was named in the papers for being one of the slowest to react).
Enough of “GObowling’s political broadcast”…
One thing that has completely overwhelmed us is our local community’s support for GObowling. It really has been immense and truly emotional for us. We have had so much positive feedback from you – our customers – it is incredible. We were amazed by how many people signed up for our petition within 48 hours of it going live late last week and we were truly touched by all for your lovely letters and phone calls of support.
( What? You haven’t signed the petition yet? Click here and, pretty please, do it: https://gobowlingnow.co.uk/gobowling-needs-your-support/ )
We can’t thank you all enough!
Our staff have also been absolutely fantastic and very understanding to the situation. We paid our staff as usual on Friday, but the week before we also had to tell them we are closing shop for the foreseeable future until we can get the promised financial help from the government and have had to make them “furloughed”.
Again, we would like to thank everyone – customers and staff alike – for your support. It means a lot to us. We will keep you informed of developments here on our website, as well as via Facebook, email, etc.
Take care and look after yourself and your dear ones.
Update – Tuesday 17th March 2020
On Thursday, we sent out an announcement to our customers confirming that we intended to continue to operate as usual, but with even more stringent cleaning routines in place, see this announcement further below.
What a difference a couple of days make.
Yesterday evening our Prime Minister announced that “now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact and to stop all non-essential travel” as he urged people to work from home and avoid pubs, clubs and theatres.
This will have a severe impact on GObowling, and we expect a large drop in customer visits, but until further notice, we intend to keep GObowling open and keep providing our services as best we can.
As GObowling is a very large facility with 32 bowling lanes, our staff have been instructed to help customers visiting us to keep separated as much as possible to ensure our customers don’t get crowded within the centre. Lanes will be allocated so that groups of visitors will be separated.
These measures are in addition to the procedures already in place as per our previous update last week. Your wellbeing remains our utmost priority.
We are expecting further announcements from the government in the days to come, so please keep visiting our website for further updates.
Finally, we are also repeating our recommendation that everyone follows the NHS recommendations to stay at home if you have the following symptoms:
• A high temperature
• A new continuous cough
You can find more advice on the NHS website:
Thursday 12th March 2020
We want to update you on the steps GObowling are taking to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 (a.k.a. the Coronavirus).
We are continuing to follow and monitor official guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England carefully. It is of vital importance for us to be in a position to ensure that any and all procedures are in place to support the health and well-being of our customers and staff members.
To help combat the spread of COVID-19, we have been putting a number of additional precautionary safety measures in place. We say, “additional” safety measures in place because, even before this virus hit the headlines, we were already keeping very high standards in terms of cleanliness and hygiene.
Our staff are already trained on maintaining the best possible standards in terms of cleanliness, and we recently received a five-star rating from the Food Standards Agency.
The additional measures we have put in place are:
• Further education to staff on prevention measures
• Emphasising proper hand-washing and frequent use of the hand sanitisers
• Providing additional hand sanitisers and ball cleaning wipes around the centre
• Increased the cleaning rota for shoes, balls, loos and throughout the centre
Otherwise, we are continuing to operate as usual, as we trust the British public won’t panic.
We do recommend that everyone follows the NHS recommendations to stay at home if you have the following symptoms:
• A high temperature
• A new continuous cough
You can find more advice on the NHS website: