Golf courses in England to re-open on Wednesday

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Golf courses in England are set to re-open from Wednesday following tonight's address to the nation by the Prime Minister.

In a televised speech, Boris Johnson outlined what he described as a "change of emphasis" in the battle with COVID-19. 

This includes people being allowed to "play sports - but only with members of their own households".

"We have been through the peak but it is often coming down the mountain that is most dangerous," said the Prime Minister. 

Amid some confusion as to what that actually means for the country's golf courses, the R&A released a statement on behalf of "UK golf bodies" this evening. 

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It read: "The UK Government has announced that golf will be able to resume in England on Wednesday, 13 May 2020. All outdoor sport must be done alone or within a household group and that includes golf. 

"There is no change to the current position in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and so golf courses in these countries must remain closed for now.

"It is important to stress that this remains an extremely difficult situation throughout the UK and we are acutely aware that many lives have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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"The effects of the virus will continue to be felt for a long time to come. As a sport we must work together to resume play responsibly as and when the relevant Government determines it is safe to do so. 

"We must ensure that the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved from golfers, to club staff and greenkeepers is maintained at all times. Golf clubs and golfers have observed the lockdown very well and must keep it up and act responsibly as play resumes."

The statement continued: "We recently provided documents giving guidance on operations and resuming play and golf clubs should consider this carefully as they restart their businesses. 

"We also provided Essential Maintenance Guidelines to help greenkeepers to prepare their courses for play. We fully appreciate the huge amount of expertise that exists within golf clubs throughout the country and this best practice guidance simply aims to achieve as consistent an approach as possible to protecting everyone. We are seeking further clarification from the Government regarding other golf-related facilities.

"The pandemic has already had a substantial impact on golf clubs and venues and the focus will soon turn to trying to recover from the crisis. As a group we will continue to do all we can to provide support and guidance in that effort."

On Friday, Scottish Golf and the Scottish Government released a statement saying: "The recent update provided by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed that lockdown restrictions remain in place and the clear public health message is to stay home and save lives. 

"This responsibility sits with each of us and golf is no exception."

• Scottish golf courses "must stay closed"

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The First Minister addressed the country again this afternoon in which she restated her position, only going so to far as to announce a relaxation of the number of times that people may leave their house to exercise. understands that there is no suggestion that re-opening courses in the 'Home of Golf' will happen this week.

In Wales, shortly after the Prime Minister's address, the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford released a video statement, in which he said that "our advice has not changed" and that the "position is rather different in Wales". 

On Friday evening, the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies' Golf Union announced a five-phase plan for the re-opening of golf courses on the Emerald Isle beginning from May 18.

Earlier on Sunday, it was announced that a further 269 people Coronavirus deaths were reported in the UK today, bringing the total to 31,855.

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