As the one-month anniversary of golf course closures in England approaches, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf (APPGG) has strengthened its case for them to re-open.
The country’s 2,000-plus courses were ordered to close on January 4 as part of new, tighter measures designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
They followed courses in Wales and Northern Ireland in going back into lockdown, leaving Scotland as the only country in the UK where golf is currently permitted.
Now, the APPGG is stepping up its lobbying, citing scientific evidence that it is safe for courses to be open for play.
A new document, entitled “COVID-19 Secure Golf in the United Kingdom 2021“, has been informed independently by epidemiologist and the Principal Advisor on Physical Activity for Health to the four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers, Professor Charlie Foster, as well as the Chief Medical Officer to the European Tour, Dr Andrew Murray.
Letters have been sent to the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales with copies of the report enclosed.
The paper showcases the steps taken by those in the 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 also cites 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.
“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,” said Professor Foster. “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.”
The Chair of the APPGG, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey, added: “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.
“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.”
During a debate in the House of Commons yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to give a date for the re-opening of golf courses, saying only that he hopes to “be able to populate the diary ahead with some more milestones” in the coming weeks.