Golf: Westwood gets in the swing of things
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Golf has been put on the back-burner since the start of January, after the introduction of a third national lockdown. The UK Government will now debate whether to open golf courses early, after a petition sparked upwards of 132,000 signatures.
All golf clubs and courses were told to close on January 4, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a third lockdown.
It came after a sharp rise in new Covid infections, as well as the introduction of the UK coronavirus variant in the previous month.
Amateur golf’s governing body, England Golf, said it was “extremely disappointed” by the announcement, because it made a “strong case” to keep golf open to the public.
The decision to close golf courses caused a backlash from amateur golfers, who started a petition to open the clubs early.
The petition stated: “The Government should allow golf courses to remain open during the second lockdown, and any future restrictions.
“Shops and clubhouses can close, but courses should be allowed to remain open, with social distancing in place.
“The risk of Covid transmission is lower outdoors, so there is no reason for golf to be stopped.
“It provides important exercise for many people and has numerous mental health benefits. Don’t allow golf to be stopped.”
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As the online petition surpassed 100,000 signatories, MPs will debate whether to open golf courses early.
The debate will take place in the House of Commons on Monday March 22, it’s been confirmed.
But responding to the petition back in January, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “No government would want to be in a position of needing to close sports facilities including golf courses. Golf has great reach across society as people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can take part in the game; it brings people together to experience the outdoors and enjoy nature.
“Golf courses were one of the first sports facilities to be reopened following the initial lockdown and they were also able to stay open in the local tiered restrictions, including tier 4.
“However, the current spread of the virus risks the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed. This is something we cannot allow to happen and is why the current national lockdown was introduced.”
When are golf courses opening?
As it stands, golf courses will reopen on Monday March 29, in step one of the Prime Minister’s roadmap.
Johnson announced three key steps to lifting current Covid restrictions as part of his roadmap.
Fourballs will be permitted to play golf throughout all three steps of the roadmap.
Outdoor driving ranges will be allowed to re-open from March 29, with indoor ranges joining from step two, on April 12.
Clubhouses have been ordered to remain closed until step three, on May 17.
The only exception is for a takeaway food service from March 8.
All restrictions are expected to be lifted from June 21, according to the latest roadmap.
But all of the timescales are provisional, and are liable to change based on current Covid case rates.
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