Irish government ruling on ‘outdoor workers’ suggests golf courses will reopen in mid May

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 1, 2020 18:50

An Irish government decision concerning ‘outdoor workers’ means golf courses can reopen on May 18 provided they adhere to social distancing rules.

As the UK and Ireland’s golf authorities have been working together, this now means it is almost certain that golf courses in the UK will be allowed to reopen from mid May.

The BBC is suggesting that UK golf courses can reopen from May 11.

Ireland’s government has agreed that outdoor workers can return to work in two weeks. This, according to a joint statement from Golf Ireland, the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland, means golf courses can reopen on May 18.

“In the initial stage, play will be for members only and competitions will not be permitted,” said the statement.

It added that clubs should refrain from opening timesheet booking for now.

“When the protocol [for return to play] is published, it will contain vital information on group sizes and timesheet intervals”.

The golf governing bodies’ statement said they had been “engaging intensively” with the government on the potential for safe resumption of the sport on a limited basis.

“To that end, golf’s governing bodies have prepared a comprehensive draft protocol on the safe resumption of play on which we have been engaging with the government over recent weeks.

“We now intend to finalise this protocol in the coming week, in consultation with the government, and issue clear advice to our member clubs well in advance of the reopening of courses on 18 May.

“That advice will emphasise the absolute necessity of golf clubs adhering to the terms of the protocol for safe play.”

The Irish golf industry has acted in an almost identical way to the UK since golf courses were told to close in March – and the ruling on ‘outdoor workers’ suggests there will be a relaxation on greenkeeping restrictions as well.

This follows the news that Karin Sharp, the new head of Scottish Golf, said this week that any decision on reopening golf courses in the UK would include Ireland.

“We are collaborating with key industry partners to ensure that across Great Britain and Ireland we are developing a consistent approach that can be adopted when the time is right,” she said.

It also chimes with a report in the Daily Mail, that there has been an advanced notification that golf clubs in Wales can reopen from mid May.

The UK’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, also said last week that he was specifically looking at ‘golf, fishing and bowls’ as activities that could be allowed in the first wave of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The Irish government will also relax restrictions on over 70s regarding exercise from May 18 and the 2km limit on travel and exercise for the wider population will be extended to 5km.

Golf Ireland chief executive Mark Kennelly said: “The golf community in Ireland welcomes the Taoiseach’s confirmation that our clubs can reopen on a restricted basis in the first phase of the Government’s plan to ease the Covid-19 restrictions. This means that golf will be one of the first sports to resume and will give golf club members the opportunity to return to play on a limited but safe basis.

“Golf offers the potential to play a significant role in the recovery from this crisis in public health terms. Our sport provides a valuable outlet for healthy outdoor activity which can be enjoyed with the appropriate safety measures in place.

“We hope that, later in the year, golf can also make a valuable contribution to economic recovery, particularly in the domestic tourism sector.”

UPDATE: The BBC’s golf correspondent, Iain Carter, has said: “Hearing rumours of May 11 return for playing golf again … and all down to what government will allow”.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 1, 2020 18:50
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1 Comment

  1. Graham May 2, 10:22

    The courses should look great!

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