England Golf have told all golf clubs, courses and facilities in the country to close after the UK was put on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The governing body said the “deeply regrettable, but highly necessary and responsible course of action must be implemented with immediate effect and be maintained until further notice”.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on Monday evening imposed strict new curbs in a bid to stop the spread of the virus – insisting people must stay at home except for medical needs, daily exercise, shopping for basic necessities and travel to and from essential work. He added that police would be given the powers to enforce those rules.
Golf clubs, courses and facilities had been able to stay open under the previous, more relaxed, advice on social distancing but the new measures were no longer compatible with that.
In a statement, England Golf said: “Following on from the Prime Minister’s statement tonight (March 23), golf clubs, courses and facilities in England must now close.
“It is England Golf’s position that this deeply regrettable, but highly necessary and responsible course of action must be implemented with immediate effect and be maintained until further notice.
“The government has identified an urgent need to introduce new restrictions on public life and on non-essential businesses opening their doors.
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“This has been done to limit the spread of the coronavirus and relieve the growing pressure on our National Health Service.
“Keeping golf courses open is simply no longer compatible with the updated policy of government which is designed to save lives in a time of national emergency.
“The health and wellbeing of the nation is the only consideration that matters at this moment in our history.
“These are incredibly testing times for the country. The golf industry cannot be shielded from the economic and social ramifications caused by this temporary shutdown of normal life.
“We would like to assure the golfing community that England Golf staff will continue to work remotely with all affiliated golfers, clubs and counties to try and minimise the damage caused by this suspension of regular golf club life.
“We will continue to signpost clubs and counties to the latest government advice and schemes designed to help the economy cope with the disruption caused by coronavirus.”
Scottish Golf followed suit with their own statement shortly afterwards, saying: “While golf is an outdoor sport that allows players to exercise in the fresh air, the message to all of us is clear, we must stay home and play our part in containing the spread of Covid-19.
“With this in mind, Scottish Golf asks that all golfers in Scotland refrain from golfing until further notice.
“We understand that this advice will have a significant impact on golf clubs across the country and we will continue to consult with industry partners to provide clubs with all information and support possible during this time of deep uncertainty.
“We know that these decisions are difficult ones to make, but right now, it is our shared responsibility to prioritise the health of our local communities by working together to follow the Government guidelines. In doing so, this will ensure that we get the opportunity to play the game that we all love as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The UK’s other golf governing bodies were yet to make statements late last night but, across social media, clubs from all four corners of the union were signifying their intention to shut immediately following the lockdown announcement.
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