As parents try to safely entertain their children this summer, many have turned to trampoline parks, bounce houses and bowling alleys that have reopened. But what are the risks of this indoor fun? We asked doctors to weigh in.
"I think it makes me a little nervous as an infectious disease doctor. A couple reasons. One, it's bringing a lot of people in close proximity and I think we don’t really know what the potential is for transmission in children to other children and adults," said Dr. Beth Thielen, an infectious disease expert with the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Thielen says there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to how easily children can spread the coronavirus to each other. Plus, the effectiveness of masks at an indoor venue like a trampoline park could be minimal.
"It's a lot of people in a potentially close space where there’s a lot of aggressive jumping and such, more respiratory secretions. Potentially similar to singing or other activities where you’re producing a lot of droplets and I think that there's real potential to spread in a confined group at this time," Dr. Thielen said.
We reached out to dozens of trampoline facilities, bounce house venues and bowling alleys across the country. Only Bowlero Corporation, which also owns AMF and Bowlmor Lanes, responded, directing us to their website listing their new health and safety measures when it comes to protecting guests from COVID-19.
The message on their site reads: "As we begin to reopen centers across the country, nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our guests and staff. In addition to following State and Federal guidelines on COVID-19, we are taking precautions to ensure your visit with us will be safe."
Some of their listed new safety measures include temperature checks and masks for their staff. On Launch Family Entertainment's website, which owns Launch Trampoline Park franchises nationwide, the company details their "rigorous STERILE cleanliness certification program." The national certification ensures contactless entry for guests, face masks and gloves for staff, sanitation stations plus reduced capacity.
Dr. Thielen responded, "I think it all depends. The devil's in the details in terms of the number and in terms of how restricted [it is]. Is it groups of people who are all spending time together and they're quarantining together in a contained group or is it a mixed population of people from different sites that could be intermixing?"
She adds, if she were forced to choose between a trampoline park, bounce house venue or bowling alley, she'd go with bowling alley.
"I think if people go to a bowling alley and they're wearing masks and staying in their individual space, then there's potential physical separation between people in one lane and another. That's something I would be looking at, can you maintain physical space from other people? It seems harder in a trampoline park but if that could be done safely that would be a positive factor," said Dr. Thielen.
Above all, ensuring people are not sick at these indoor venues is key. And it's best to leave high risk populations, such as people with medical concerns or over the age of 60, at home.