The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that outdoor sports will be allowed to resume in England from Monday 29th March. The news comes as part of the government's plans to 'unlock' the country, after what will have been an extremely long 12 weeks without golf being allowed to be played due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
England's roadmap features five key stages that will take place between now and 21st June, resulting in limits to social contact being lifted and a return to normality.
The first stage in the roadmap will take place two weeks from now on 8th March with schools and before and after-school clubs opening, as well as people being allowed to meet one other person outside.
The second stage is the date that everybody associated with the game of golf in England has been waiting for. From the 29th of March, two households or up to six people will be allowed to meet outside, meaning that outdoor sports clubs including golf and tennis clubs can finally reopen. This also means that people in England will be allowed to play golf in fourballs as opposed to in just twos, which is what golfers in Scotland have been playing in since Christmas.
Stage three means that from 12th April, outdoor hospitality will be allowed to re-open meaning that golf clubhouses will be able to serve food and beverages outside. Other restrictions lifted on this date include: non-essential retail, hairdressers, personal care, gyms, holiday lets for household groups, libraries, zoos/museums and theme park visits as a household.
This also means self catering holiday accommodation will be allowed from 12th for any golfers keen to book a long awaited golf trip!
Unfortunately these rules apply for England only, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set to announce their own measures in the coming days and weeks. Fingers crossed they can return to the fairways inline with England too.
Although this news has been welcomed with positive regard by many, there are also large amounts of golfers, clubs, and associations in England who are disappointed with the plan, believing the scientific evidence shows that golf courses could have been opened safely, much earlier within the remaining guidelines.
England Golf has issued the following statement in response to the government’s presentation of its roadmap out of lockdown earlier today:
“England Golf is extremely disappointed that the scientific evidence presented to government detailing how the sport can be played in a Covid-secure manner has not resulted in a return to play date earlier than 29 March.
“We will now examine the details of the government’s roadmap before making further comment and working with our community of clubs, counties and golfers to prepare for the game’s safe return.”
Some golfers have also taken to social media to show their disappointment at the government's plan.
European Tour player Dave Horsey tweeted:
Ex-England Cricket Captain and avid golfer Michael Vaughan tweeted:
Whatever your opinion on the roadmap set out by the UK Government, at least we now have a date to look forward to. Something to work towards. We have confirmation that golf will definitely return and when it does, there will be another five weeks worth of vaccinations rolled out to the public improving our defence as a society against COVID-19.
In my opinion the plus points don't stop there either... Yes, we all want to get out and play golf as soon as possible but golf clubs now have sufficient time to prepare perfectly for the return to golf, having had the experience of last year when golf returned after Lockdown 1.0, and let's be honest, there's plenty to learn from regarding our last restart...
Whether it be managing tee sheet expectations, implementing social distancing measures or giving understaffed greenkeeping teams the chance to complete any remaining winter course maintenance, come March 29th, we'll be in a better position than ever to return to the game we all know and love.
To that I say Amen. Hopefully this is the start of more permanent brighter future.
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