The boss of a popular bowling chain has demanded the Government allows his venues to open as soon as possible.

Stephen Burns, chief executive of the Hollywood Bowl chain which has centres in Basildon and Thurrock, has made the plea ahead of the lockdown announcement on Monday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his roadmap out of the tough restrictions, and is expected to prioritise opening schools first.

The leisure and hospitality industries are expected to remain closed throughout much of March and could reopen in April.

But Mr Burns insists all Hollywood Bowl centres are safe to open now and is pleading with the Government to allow them to open sooner.

He said: “We are urging the government to reopen ten-pin bowling as early as possible.

“We have shown that we can operate safely in our spacious centres, which are well suited to single household groups and have invested heavily in our Covid-secure measures.


“Indoor leisure was one of the last sectors to reopen and has suffered extensive loss of income as a result.

“The data shows that we can operate safely and we are ready to reopen and looking forward to welcoming our customers back.”

Monday’s lockdown announcement will be made once the Government has studied the latest Covid-19 data, including infection rates, the success of the vaccine rollout and number of hospitalisations.

Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), says “everything’s moving in the right direction” when it comes to the impact of vaccines on the pandemic.

His comments have been echoed by Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London and a key figure in ensuring the UK went into lockdown last March, who said that while it was still “early days”, a figure of two-thirds efficacy from a single dose of a vaccine was “not too far off”.

Public Health England (PHE) is due to publish data shortly which shows the effectiveness of the current vaccination programme.

Prof Finn told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve now got to the point with the study we’re doing in Bristol where we can say with certainty that there is definitely an effect.

“It’s just hard to put an exact number on it at this point because… the numbers of cases coming through are still building up, the number of people who’ve been vaccinated are still going up, but it’s becoming clearer for the Pfizer vaccine, which we’ve been using for a month longer, since early December, and it’ll take slightly longer for us to get a firm handle on just how well the AstraZeneca vaccine is preventing hospitalisations too, but they’re definitely doing the job.”