In what will hopefully be mirrored in Ireland, golf courses will be able to reopen across England from December 2nd, the date the country’s four-week national lockdown is due to end. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed plans for the lifting of lockdown restrictions next month, paving the way for outdoor sport to resume in England.
“The announcement paves the way for golf to return at all COVID-19 alert levels within the Rule of Six, permitting fourball play without restriction on number of households,” read a statement released by England Golf. “Coaching, fitting and ranges will also be allowed to open, as will indoor hospitality facilities in tiers one and two (those in tier three can continue a takeaway service only).”
The news will come as a major boost to the golf industry in England and follows a petition that gathered some 257,000 signatures calling for golf’s exemption from any lockdown measures. The petition was being debated in Parliament in recent days while the likes of Lee Westwood and Sky Sports analyst Nick Dougherty also added their voices to golf’s safe return, believing the sport was never more important given its proven mental and physical health benefits.
Ireland’s level 5 exit plan is set to be made public on Thursday or Friday this week and it’s widely assumed that golf will be given the green light to resume under strict health and safety guidelines. The sport had been flourishing under such measures prior to this latest lockdown, lending itself naturally to social distancing while many had hoped it would be spared under level 5 lockdown.
In England, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf had been set up to fight the game’s corner amid Covid-19 and unsurprisingly, Chairman, North Warwickshire MP, Craig Tracey was delighted to get the result allowing golf to return on December 2.
“I am sure all involved in golf in England welcome the sport’s return and the industry has yet again pulled together to form a coherent message to Government articulating why it was safe to do so,” he said.
“As was seen both before and during this lockdown, golf is a sport that can be played safely and the industry adapted quickly to manage the restrictions imposed previously. Golf now has operational experience and established COVID secure practices, including rule changes and other mitigation measures that meet the Hands, Face, Space directive. It is therefore ideally placed to welcome people back when lockdown ends in all the home nations.
“The health and wellbeing benefits of playing golf are well documented in scientific literature and leaders in public health, public policy and sport from across the globe recognise that golf tackles physical inactivity and contributes to the prevention of a range of non-communicable diseases.
“Combining the undeniable benefits that golf offers to a significant proportion of the country, and the steps taken that ensure golf is a sport that can be played safely, the golf industry looks forward to welcoming players back and is confident it can meet future restrictions.”