Golf courses in England are set to be allowed to reopen in England from March 29 as the UK government begins to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has revealed a roadmap out of lockdown today (Monday) that gives the green light for golfers to get back onto the course for the first time since January 4.
It will bring an end to 84 days of golf club closures throughout England. The Welsh government is likely to follow the same advice – although that is yet to be confirmed – while golf courses in Scotland have stayed open throughout the third UK national lockdown.
England Golf and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, both of which have being push hard for golf’s early return, have both expressed disappointment at the delay in the re-opening courses.
A statement from England Golf read: “We are 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 March 29th. 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.”
A statement from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, of which England Golf is a member, added: “Boris Johnson has now confirmed that golf will be included in the first wave of sports able to return once the national legal requirements to stay at home end on March 29th. A meeting of the APPG with industry bodies is scheduled to take place on February 24th to consider the impact of the statement on the sport in England, and the full details are now being reviewed by the industry bodies, specifically the impact of the different levels on different aspects of golf including playing, coaching, retail, and club fitting, as well the implications for driving ranges and practice facilities.
“Members are encouraged to review England Golf’s website for further details and updates. All premises are encouraged to ensure risk assessments and action plans comply with local guidance ahead of the restart.”
The relaxation of measures is the first stage of a four-part roadmap that will include the re-opening of schools on March 8, non-essential retail on April 12, and restaurants, pubs and bars on May 17. All limits on social restrictions are to be removed by June 17.
While precise details remain unclear, from March 29, people will be allowed to meet outside either with one other household or within the ‘rule of six’, opening up the possibility of fourballs being allowed within those bubbles.
Pro shops and off-course retailers in England will be able to open on April 12 – although click-and-collect purchases at pro shops will be available from March 29 – while clubhouse bars and dining rooms will have to wait until May 17 before they can allow customers indoors, although clubs can serve drinks and meals outside from April 12.
UK golf resorts and hotels will also be able to start hosting golfers for overnight stays from May 17.