Could this mean golf is exempt from future UK COVID lockdowns?

Hopes are high that golf will be exempt from any future COVID-19 lockdown measures following a meeting between Craig Tracey, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf (APPGG), and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden.

Mr. Tracey, the MP for North Warwickshire, presented his Conservative party colleague Mr. Dowden with a detailed paper prepared by that APPGG that makes it clear golf can be played safely and in line with COVID-restrictions.

The paper, which can be viewed here, has also been sent direct to the Secretary of State for Health, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Sports Minister and the Chairman of the Digital, Media and Sport Select Committee. 

Members of Parliament in the Group representing Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh constituencies will present the paper to ministers in national governments in due course.

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Compiled from the work of industry bodies involved in the APPGG, and building on the operational experience established by clubs and facilities throughout the UK, the paper demonstrates that golf has established COVID-secure practices, including rule changes and other mitigation measures that meet the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ directive.

Golf in England resumed earlier this week following a near month-long shutdown, the second such lockdown this year. However, following the publication of this report, it is hoped that any future lockdown measures will include the sport.

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Mr. Tracey said: “I am grateful to the Secretary of State for taking the time to meet with me today and hear the evidence that golf is a sport that can be played safely during COVID. He recognises the incredibly hard work of golf bodies throughout the UK to ensure this is the case, as well as the outstanding conduct of staff and players involved in the sport in their compliance with government guidance.

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“As the paper makes clear, an estimated 20 million full-length rounds of golf took place between June and September 2020 and academic opinion from advisors to the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) indicate that any level of community transmission attributed to playing golf is likely to be extremely low. 

“This is to be expected; not only does golf provide greater social distancing than the likes of walking, running, or cycling in urban settings, those who play do so with enhanced hygiene and social distancing measures implemented and monitored by golf clubs and facilities.

“I was very pleased to be able to present this to the Secretary of State, and additionally make the case that, with the well-documented health benefits of playing golf, not only should it be allowed to continue during any future restrictions, the UK and other governments should recognise its importance in supporting people’s physical and mental wellbeing. 

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"Ministers and officials should speak to industry bodies about how the sport can be made more accessible to people now, when they need it most.”

Mr. Dowden added: “I know the great benefits playing golf and being part of a community club brings, which is why, working with the APPG for Golf, we ensured they would be front of the queue to be reopened. Golf is a fantastic sport with millions playing and watching every week, myself included.”

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