Published: 06:00, 03 November 2020
Hopes that golf could be played on courses in Kent during the second lockdown have been quashed by the Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson was asked about the potential of certain sports, including golf, being made exempt from the list of those recreational activities that are to be stopped from Thursday, as part of the national lockdown in England.
Over 250,000 people signed a petition over the weekend asking for golf courses to remain open but Mr Johnson preferred to have a more-or-less blanket stop on all non-elite sports.
Replying to a question from James Sunderland MP, asking about the closure of gyms, golf clubs and tennis, Mr Johnson said: “I must apologise for not being able to offer a huge list of exemptions. Once you unpick at one thing, the effectiveness of the whole package is compromised.”
The lockdown is set to take place throughout November, from Thursday, before the country returns to a tiered system of measures, from December 2.
Mr Johnson added: "We need to get the R down and stop the spread of the disease. Golf, and everything else, will be able to resume I hope on December 2."
It’s a blow to those who have argued about the merits of golf during the lockdown, with wide-open courses well suited for social distancing and a sport played by all ages.
Tennis and swimming were among the sports also lobbying the government for an exemption but both will have to now accept another spell without activity on courts and in the pools.
Golf clubs in Kent had argued the case of golf continuing after being lumped in with a wide range of activities, including soft play.
The chief exec of The Cave Hotel & Golf Resort, Johnathan Callister, described the decision to ban golf during lockdown as “sheer stupidity.”
Head professional at Sittingbourne & Milton Regis Golf Club, Chris Weston, tweeted that golf is “essential is for the health and well being of the country.”
The general manager of Dartford Golf Club, Andy Hall, said that with 80 acres of space on their course, there was ample room for social distancing.
The chief exec of England Golf, Jeremy Tomlinson, said: “It is our sincere belief that it is now counter-productive to shut down a healthy pursuit which naturally lends itself to social distancing and is played in a Covid-secure manner in the open air.”
There have been exceptions to the “elite” sport rule. The top six football divisions in England are classed as elite but FA Cup matches this weekend involving non-elite teams, including Cray Valley, are free to play. It looks likely that they won’t be able to compete in their own league, however, or even train from Thursday.