Boris Johnson dashes hopes that golf will win lockdown reprieve

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 2, 2020 17:07

The prime minister has dashed hopes that golf courses in England will be allowed to remain open from November 5 to December 2 after all.

Just a few hours ago both The Times and The Guardian suggested it was likely that golf courses would receive a reprieve from the policy announced at the weekend about a new national lockdown. This stated that golf courses in England must close from November 5 to December 2.

However, Boris Johnson, responding to two questions specifically about golf in the House of Commons, said that unpicking items from the exemption list risks compromising the whole package.

He was asked by James Sunderland MP: “Many of my constituents have expressed concern about the closure of gyms, golf clubs and tennis clubs. Given the proven benefits of exercise and the lack of any evidence that these activities have contributed to the increase in the R rate, might the prime minister be willing to reconsider the guidance?”

The prime minister replied: “I must apologise for not being able to offer a huge list of exemptions. Once you unpick at one thing, the effectiveness of the whole package is compromised.”

More than an hour later he was asked by another MP if golf could still go ahead but with restrictions such as a two-ball format only. He replied that this was an excellent suggestion that would be considered, but then seemed to downplay the idea by adding again that there was a risk of including exemptions and said ‘golf will be able to resume in December’.

Earlier, The Guardian wrote: ‘The government is considering a more flexible approach to outdoor sports banned as part of the new lockdown measures that will be introduced on Thursday. The Guardian understands that golf, tennis and swimming in particular are potentially in line for reprieves, with discussions ongoing at the highest levels about whether to allow sports to continue that can easily social distance.

‘A final decision is likely to be made in the next 24-36 hours.’

In addition, Craig Tracey MP said on Sunday night: “Very positive conversation with the government tonight on making case for golf courses to remain open. Flagged the petition which at that time was 186,000 and rising.”

Then the BBC’s sports editor, Dan Roan, suggested a U-turn was unlikely.

‘I’m told that Public Health England are now pushing back hard against an argument that golf and tennis should be granted an exemption from Lockdown 2 restrictions. Talks ongoing but hopes that those two socially-distanced, outdoor sports could be permitted are fading,’ he wrote on social media.

Mike Dickson, sports journalist at the Daily Mail, responded: ‘Government is always uneasy at the prospect of being seen to favour what many consider ‘posh’ sports. Most people are unaware that the average annual tennis club sub costs about the same as a decent pair of football boots.’

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 2, 2020 17:07
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26 Comments

  1. Jollysailor November 5, 10:56

    How can Angling be allowed with two people able to fish on beach, riverbank or lake and yet golf has been stopped yet again. We have been strictly adhering to the Covid rules at our club and playing in two’s whilst social distancing. This second lockdown has caused knee jerk reactions from the government which I fear will give rise to a deep rooted resentment from the population who see their freedoms curtailed and their health and mental wellbeing destroyed.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jollysailor November 5, 10:55

    How can Angling be allowed with two people able to fish on beach, riverbank or lake and yet golf has been stopped yet again. We have been strictly adhering to the Covid rules at our club and playing in two’s whilst social distancing. This second lockdown has caused knee jerk reactions from the government which I fear will give rise to a deep rooted resentment from the population who see their freedoms curtailed and their health and mental wellbeing destroyed.

    Reply to this comment
  3. SwilkenBurn November 5, 03:38

    I want a refund for my subs around £130 a month, the government should pay it !

    Reply to this comment
  4. Drsl November 3, 20:01

    It’s not about a virus, so trying to make sense of it from that perspective pointless.

    Anyone who still thinks it is has a very limited perception.

    Reply to this comment
  5. SG November 3, 12:52

    Yet another mistake by boris the buffoon out of touch with the people and only interested in covering his appalling record by which he hasn’t handled the alleged pandemic by hiding behind the science which so far has resulted in over 50,000 deaths that we know of so I would say he’s done a really great job in his position in protecting the population of the uk , I used to think he would be a decent prime minister but his track record leaves a lot to be desired , the sad thing is we as a people are powerless to affect change in these difficult times but maybe bojo and his crowd of lackeys will one day pay the price for the ineptitude shown by the elite in politics , so called by themselves !

    The guy is a total twat and will not be re elected next time round I urge all to vote against him and his party next time round by which time hopefully Nigel farrage will show his true colors and step up to the plate , I’ve always had an affinity to the Conservative party , labour are also useless so we need a credible alternative to break the mould

    And on another point I cannot believe the number of so called medical experts we are now seeing on our tv screens , no wonder the NHS and PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND are in such a mess with the monies we as taxpayers are paying to these paper pushers who are all self opinionated experts , best to get rid of at least 50 % of these overpaid underworked experts and pay their saved salaries into front line doctors and nurses , too may overpaid chiefs and not enough Indians , if they were in the private sector I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be employed for long based based on their productivity , they seem bullet proof and totally unaccountable and totally beyond any form of reproach or accountability , some I’m sure are good at their jobs but at least 50% are surplus to requirements , it’s so frustrating to see it and being unable in any way to some way sort out such a mess

    Reply to this comment
  6. Jonny November 3, 10:01

    The Tories are doing themselves no favours in this pedantic attitude to “posh” sports. Golf is good for physical and mental health. NHS England have proved to be not fit for purpose already and yet are pushing this no golf or tennis mantra. Why ?
    What if all golfers and tennis players were to now say to Boris no sport no vote in next years local elections.

    Reply to this comment
  7. PB November 3, 09:44

    If a golf course is on Public land then two people can exercise there legally. If they happen to be playing golf this cannot be illegal as they are just exercising together. The legislation is for golf courses to close but not for people to not play golf?!!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Graham D November 3, 08:11

    Cos he doesn’t do sport. Full stop! 5 miles in 4 hours, where’s the problem Mr Johnson? Try it sometime….

    Reply to this comment
  9. Alford November 3, 07:59

    If ever there was a time to question the sanity of this government, it’s now! #Sanity #commonmistakes #intelligence #socialcare #humanintelligence

    Reply to this comment
  10. Lee55 November 3, 07:02

    Dear Boris,
    I don’t envy your position and wouldn’t swap for the value of the entire furlough fund. But, without wanting to appear selfish or narrow minded………
    Come Thursday, I can meet my regular (from another household) golf partner, on the first tee of our (by then closed) golf club and walk together (obvs 2 metres apart) around the entire course (as many times as we like!). So, why can’t we do this whilst hitting a golf ball each??? – we’d (zig-zag) walk twice as far and be further apart (most of the time!!) and it would enhance our physical, mental (and maybe emotional ) health ‍♂️‍♂️‍♂️

    Reply to this comment
  11. Lee55 November 3, 07:01

    Dear Boris,
    I don’t envy your position and wouldn’t swap for the value of the entire furlough fund. But, without wanting to appear selfish or narrow minded………
    Come Thursday, I can meet my regular (from another household) golf partner, on the first tee of our (by then closed) golf club and walk together (obvs 2 metres apart) around the entire course (as many times as we like!). So, why can’t we do this whilst hitting a golf ball each??? – we’d (zig-zag) walk twice as far and be further apart (most of the time!!) and it would enhance our physical, mental (and maybe emotional ) health ‍♂️‍♂️‍♂️

    Reply to this comment
    • Heinrich November 3, 22:57

      So Boris, you’ve lost the next general election because I believe you just don’t listen or possess any common sense.
      You seem such a waste of space. Do you want
      to be remembered like Major? Total waste of space?

      Reply to this comment
  12. William C November 3, 03:44

    So……. basically this means that in two weeks time he will do another U-turn and open them up (rightly so).

    Reply to this comment
  13. KAllen November 3, 03:24

    He’s an idiot leading a pack of idiots

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin D .( The Doc ) November 3, 16:38

      I fail to see the difference of two people walking in a park or the streets for exercise, or the same two people even in a more open space of playing a golf course, or outdoor tennis court, even a rowing club.The only provision, this would need to be reasonably local to where they live. Understandably other venue facilities would be closed. Where is the problem and it is also traceable, or is the Governments Track and Trace that ineffective !!

      Reply to this comment
      • Jollysailor November 5, 11:55

        I quite agree – fishing can continue from beach, lakeside or river, either in singles or in pairs without any track or trace, for any length of time, and yet golf is cancelled?? So unfair! I wish the Government would listen to the people. We are not children!

        Reply to this comment
  14. Gent November 3, 01:50

    Really disappointed, he didn’t even blink an eye when saying no

    Reply to this comment
  15. Shark November 3, 01:17

    We were told the lockdown for england was necessary to get the R number below 1.
    Manchester has a high vaue for R ! Then why not severely lock down Manchester !
    Cornwall and Norfolk have a low value for R ! So leave them alone !
    The R number for England is a meaningless term !
    The R number only has meaning for a flare up in a small region !

    Reply to this comment
  16. Tom ward November 2, 21:59

    So I can walk on a golf course with a friend but can’t take my balls with me

    Reply to this comment
  17. Alfred The Great November 2, 20:29

    I can go to a garden centre and see Sabra but I can play golf. When is the last time that 2 golfers have hit their ball within 2 meters of each other? This really needs to be revisited and some concessions made or people will start to believe that there is no logic behind this lockdown.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Cbb November 2, 18:47

    So I can walk in the park with someone, and that’s safe and classed as exercise, but I can’t swing a golf club, or a tennis racquet , because that’s not safe!!! Someone explain please, and if there are many many more Covid cases coming from children at school, then get the R down and shut the schools also.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Triboman November 2, 18:40

    Public Health England need to get real. Mental health is a real problem with for older people trying to stay safe. The risk of contracting covid from playing outdoor sports like golf or tennis is vanishingly small. If they are trying to send people insane then this is the right thoughtless attitude to take. Those not bothered about managing risk will alleviate boredom by flouting the rules so in the end closing everything benefits no one and destroys the economy.

    Reply to this comment
    • Boo Boo November 3, 20:21

      As a golfer of 50 years, of course I would like to continue to play, a two ball format would work.
      But “we are all in this together” and to see preference to golf when other sports are not allowed does the perception of the game harm.
      Anyway, it is only four weeks, few are playing because of the short daylight hours and saturated courses. Trolleys not always being allowed stops those that cannot carry from playing.
      Let’s be part of the “in it together” thinking and not be selfish

      Reply to this comment
      • Jollysailor November 5, 11:01

        It may only be a few weeks but how come fishing can continue in two’s. (Beach, lake, river, boat) And if I can go for a walk with one other person what’s the difference in hitting a ball around in front of me and pushing my own trolley. We managed without a clubhouse for a few weeks before so where is the difference now. If one sport is banned then all sports should be banned. Why not stop cycling in two’s where it is being done for exercise??

        Reply to this comment
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