England Golf – COVID-19 Update 28 January 2021

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf is fighting our corner and continues to make a case for Golf being a safe form of exercise and to resume as soon as possible, outlining the rationale behind their arguments.

The report states that golf has the same health benefits as walking, cycling, and running and, with the uncrowded nature of golf courses and strict protocols provided, risk of transmission during golf is lower than these other health enhancing physical activities.

If scientific evidence is to be applied logically and consistently, golf should be permitted to return during the current phase of national lockdown (which commenced on 4 January 2021).

The report also puts forward practices and procedures for the safe management of golfing facilities during COVID-19 restrictions which have been been enhanced to reflect the new variant and national lockdown.

During National Lockdown, or Tiers higher than 4:

  • Persons from one household should be permitted to play together.
  • Two adults from different households may play, while children under 12 from these households should be permitted.
  • 2 metres + (aiming for 3 metres) should be adhered to for members of different households.
  • 4 markings should be placed adjacent to the tees 3 metres apart, highlighting appropriate social distancing • Travel to venue must be local (in keeping with wider guidance re exercise)

The report also sets out operational guidance for golf facility owners, professional and administrative staffs engaged in the management of golf courses, clubs and driving ranges when COVID-19 restrictions are in force in the Nations and Regions of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

It emphasises the point that it is essential that golfing facilities operate safely, meeting the sporting, physical activity and mental wellbeing needs of patrons, while abiding, at all times, by prevailing government public health restrictions.

In response to this, England Golf released the following COVID-19 Update yesterday

‘In response to the latest national lockdown and the government making clear it intends to maintain its “science first” approach in their decision-making process, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf has updated its “COVID-19 Secure Golf in the United Kingdom” paper.

This now includes greater evidence and rationale from leading experts to again make the case for the sport to make an early return.

The updated document, titled “COVID-19 Secure Golf in the United Kingdom 2021“, has been informed independently by epidemiologist and Principal Advisor on Physical Activity for Health to the four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers, Professor Charlie Foster and Chief Medical Officer to the European Tour, Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Andrew Murray.

Letters have been sent to the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales enclosing copies.

The paper showcases the steps taken by those in the golf industry to ensure players’ and staff safety by meeting the various COVID protocols, as well as the commitment to continue this and be able to recognise and adapt to the changing circumstances linked to the virus.

It goes on to cite academic and scientific research that clearly demonstrate the link between physical activity and physical and mental wellbeing, including supporting the immune system and helping fight disease.

Professor Charlie Foster commented on the paper: “As the paper shows, golf can be played safely, and it should have a central role in the government’s thinking when it comes to helping people exercise now and as we come out of pandemic restrictions.

“I have therefore recommended that an expert in physical activity join the SAGE advisory group to ensure there is consistency across the sciences represented within it, and to provide advice on allowing physical activity to return as restrictions are reduced.”

Dr Andrew Murray added: “Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health adding years to life, and having many mental and physical health benefits, be that through – for example – walking, cycling, running or golf.

“Golf’s careful planning and compliance with COVID-19 tiers and regulation means its level of transmission from playing is likely to be extremely low, much lower than indoor space, or more populated outdoor areas.

“This is supported by the various scientific research the paper cites and I encourage those in SAGE and in government to review those as I am sure they will conclude that golf is similar to walking, running and cycling in being beneficial, and is safe to play with the relevant protocols in place.”

The Group’s Chair, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey said: “It is entirely understandable for government to utilise scientific advice available when creating its strategy, but it is equally important for that scientific evidence to be applied evenly.

“With the help of Professor Foster and Dr Murray, this paper provides that scientific evidence and demonstrates that golf can be played safely with the various enhanced protocols appropriate for the new variants.

“I am grateful to them and all the bodies in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf for their hard work on preparing this thorough paper.

“Again we have been clearly able to make the case that golf is ready, willing and able to return safely at the earliest possible opportunity.”

So keep your fingers crossed and an eye on the press.

Stay safe and well

Tony

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