In which tier of the Government's coronavirus restrictions is your golf club? And what does this mean? Steve Carroll has all the answers
As England prepares to exit lockdown for the second time, we’re all going to have to get used to a new level of tier restrictions that are likely to be in place until spring. The question we get asked almost daily is: “Can I play golf in Tier 3?”
You may already be used to the tier concept, but the measures announced by the Government, and which will come into force on December 2, are said to be much tougher than what preceded them.
The Covid alert levels – or tiers – will still determine what applies to you and your club in England and they are still labelled Tier 1: Medium Alert, Tier 2: High Alert and Tier 3: Very High Alert.
So in which tier is your golf club and how will this affect you? Let’s take a look at them.
What applies to every Tier?
Golf courses will be able to open in every tier, subject to the relevant social contact rules in each. Across all Tiers, everyone must wear a face covering in most indoor public settings unless they have an exemption.
They must also follow rules on meeting others safely and the gathering limits at their Tier, except for in specific settings and circumstances.
What’s different in Tier 1?
The rule of six will apply, meaning you must not socialise in groups larger than six people indoors or outdoors, except where a legal exemption applies.
Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises have to provide table service only, for premises that serve alcohol, close between 11pm and 5am. They must also stop taking orders after 10pm.
Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue, as can indoor sport if the rule of six is followed. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes, and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing.
The PGA have confirmed that coaching can take place outdoors. Following the rule of six for indoor coaching means the coach plus up to five others.
If you are embarking on a golf trip, live in a Tier 1 area and travel to a higher Tier, you should follow the rules for that area while you are there. You are asked to avoid travel or overnight stays in Tier 3 areas other than where necessary. You can travel through such an area as part of a longer journey.
Tier 1 areas: Cornwall, Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly
What’s different in Tier 2?
You can’t socialise with anyone you don’t live with, or who is not in your support bubble, in any indoor setting. You also can’t socialise in a group of more than six people outside.
Pubs and bars must close, unless they are operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.
While outdoor sport can continue, organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). Exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s continue to apply.
The PGA have said that means that coaching can take place outdoors but coaching customers indoors is not permitted.
While you can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, you should aim to reduce the number of journeys made where it is possible to do so.
If you live in a Tier 2 area, you must follow Tier 2 rules when travelling to a Tier 1 area. As in Tier 1, you should avoid travel or overnight stays in Tier 3 areas other than where necessary.
Tier 2 areas: London (all 32 boroughs plus City of London), Liverpool City Region, Cumbria, Warrington and Cheshire, York, North Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, Rutland, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough, Norfolk, Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, East Sussex, West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, Surrey, Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Windsor and Maidenhead, West Berkshire, Hampshire (except Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor, Bath and North East Somerset, Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Swindon, Devon
What’s different in Tier 3?
You must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, and you must not socialise in a group of more than six in some other outdoor public spaces – including a “sports facility”.
Hospitality settings, including bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants, are closed, although they are allowed to continue takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through and delivery services.
While leisure and sports facilities can continue to stay open, group exercise classes, including fitness and dance, should not go ahead.
Organised outdoor sport can continue, but higher-risk contact activity should not take place. Organised indoor sport cannot take place, save for the exceptions in Tiers 1 and 2.
The PGA have explained that coaching can also take place outdoors but people should avoid higher-risk contact activity. Coaching customers indoors is not permitted.
While you can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, you should aim to reduce the number of journeys where possible.
You should also avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays, other than where necessary. That includes work, education and receiving medical treatment.
Tier 3 areas: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Manchester, Northumberland, Kent and Medway, Leeds, Hull, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, North Tyneside, County Durham, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen, The Humber, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Birmingham and Black Country, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull, Derby and Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Slough (remainder of Berkshire is Tier 2: High alert), Kent and Medway, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset
What about driving ranges?
Some golf ranges can be classified as indoor settings, say The PGA, but it would be “for each facility to read and interpret the guidelines against their own venue and facility”.
Those who are unsure are advised to contact their local authority.
And pro shops?
From 00.01 on Wednesday, December 2, “golf retail can re-open across all tier levels. However, Covid-19 procedures must be in place”.
If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or tweet me.