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Wales’ golf courses unhappy they must stay closed while exercise rules relaxed

21 Feb 2021 3 minutes Read
Picture by Quecheelakes (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Wales’ golf courses have said that they are unhappy that they are being required to stay closed despite the First Minister allowing up to four people from two different households to meet for exercise.

Wales Golf CEO Richard Dixon expressed his “disappointment” at the lack of easing of restrictions for golf, saying that the sport “can be played in a safe, socially distance manner”.

He told GolfMagic that he expected the sport to be at the front of the queue for easing restrictions when the next three week review takes place on 12 March.

“At a meeting with Welsh Government officials earlier this week, we presented the APPGG COVID-19 Secure Golf Document which supports our long-held view that golf has been and can continue to be played safely during the current pandemic,” Richard Dixon said.

“Other key areas of discussion centred around the numerous mental health and wellbeing benefits golf provides to tens of thousands of participants across Wales.

“Welsh Government agreed that golf is a sport that can be played in a safe, socially distanced manner. Their main concerns were with the potential Wales-wide impact of relaxing the ‘stay at home’ restrictions, and the cumulative impact of doing this.

“We totally understand the wider concerns, but golf is a sport that can be played safely outdoors while providing exercise. The whole golf industry has adapted to the restrictions imposed to ensure people’s safety, developed significant operational experience and established Covid secure practices, including rule changes and other mitigation measures that meet the ‘hands, face, space’ directive.

“The health and wellbeing benefits of playing golf are well documented in scientific studies. Leaders in public health, public policy and sport from across the globe recognise that golf tackles physical inactivity and contributes to the prevention of a range of non-communicable diseases.

“Combining the undeniable benefits golf offers to a significant proportion of the country, and the steps taken that ensure golf is a sport that can be played safely, it is ideally placed to be able to be played safely under lockdown restrictions.”

‘Cumulative’

Responding to the requests for the easing of restrictions on sport, Mark Drakeford said that while individuals sports may not make much of a difference to Covid-19 circulation, together they may raise the R rate.

“I’m very familiar with the long list of activities that people write to us about – why not tennis, why not golf, why not fishing, why not pigeon racing? It’s a long list,” he said.

“The problem is, every activity you add gives the virus another opportunity to circulate. And the more you add incrementally by themselves, they may hardly seem to add anything.

“But everything adds something, and by the time you’ve added them all up, you find the virus is thriving and getting away from us again.

“That’s what I keep trying to explain to people. It’s the cumulative effect of all these things we have to be aware of. Not just the single strands.”

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