Many golfers are frustrated they will not be able to take to the fairways from Monday – but March 29 is the first date golf reopening could “realistically” happen in England, according to the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf.
Speaking at the online GolfBIC conference, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey said the “battle was lost”, in terms of courses unlocking their gates at the same time as schools, when the sport had to close as part of the national lockdown.
Tracey outlined what the All-Party group had done during the initial lockdown last year to ensure golf was one of the first sports to resume last May, and the various measures since to try and “futureproof” it as the national Covid-19 situation deteriorated.
He also detailed the revised report which, with the help of Dr Andrew Murray, chief medical officer for the European Tour, and epidemiologist Professor Charlie Foster, gathered scientific evidence to demonstrate golf could be played safely.
“I think, within a matter of about three or four days, we’d managed to get them to pull together all the evidence we needed and we were able to set out at that point why golf could return, why it was safe to return, and also how it could adapt to new variants of the disease so that, in future, there was no need to close it down,” Tracey said.
“I think it was an excellent report that we pulled together. We got it to the prime minister, the chief medical officer, secretary of state for health, as well as the Culture, Media and Sport team.
“[The report was] very well received and it explicitly spelled out the science. In our covering letter, we pointed out that we weren’t against following the science.
“It’s been said time and time again we need to follow the science, we have to follow the science. That’s fine. But if the science also says that it’s safe for golf to return, then please follow that science as well. It doesn’t really look great when you’re selective in which strands of science that you go on to then choose to follow.”
Tracey noted that, last week, it was announced that “golf again would be one of the first sports to return”.
He added: “Now, obviously, I appreciate that there were people who would have liked to have seen it come back earlier. But I think, realistically, this was the first point that it could come back.
“The battle was lost, in terms of coming back at the same time as schools, when the courses had to close as part of the national lockdown.
“When you’re trying to navigate a return of schools then [the Government] were unlikely to relax other things at this time.
“And the law requiring people to stay at home isn’t actually lifted till the 29th of March. So on that very day courses will be allowed to open.”
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