Time for golfers to get back on course? – Letters

Measures could ensure post-lockdown play says a reader

Might golfing resume safely?

It seems the biggest barrier to golf courses reopening is the issue of driving to and from the course. I understand the proposals for the return of golf being put forward to the government by the relevant golfing bodies address the issue of overcrowding in car parks, with rules about the timing of arrival for play, so the remaining concern is the risk associated with travelling for a non-essential purpose, albeit for exercise and general well-being. With three hours plus for a round of golf, the exercise time will always far outweigh the time spent travelling, which adheres to the current guidance on travelling to exercise. Both the further you travel and the increase in the volume of traffic heightens the risk of accidents, thereby increasing the risk of infection for the emergency services as well as taking up valuable hospital resources. This additional risk is very small and would be further reduced if we adopted the Irish plan to initially restrict golf to members living within a 5km radius of their home club.

Your writer Martin Dempster (4 May) wonders how this could be policed but the answer is surely very simple. The proposals for a return to golf referred to earlier state that golf will need to be pre-booked online or by phone. This is presumably to prevent the ‘Snowdonia’ effect. I imagine all clubs have details of all their members, including home address. Clubs would be able to list all the members within a 5km radius and only they would be permitted to book. As a further security measure, golfers would be required to show their membership card, which is normal practice anyway, before teeing off and this would be checked against the 5km members list.

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It may even be possible for all clubs to allow reciprocal arrangements for golfers to play, free of charge, on their nearest course, provided it is within 5km of their home, and their own course is more then 5km away. They could take up times not used by the host clubs members. They would still be required to book and would have to show proof of identity, home address and membership of own club before being allowed to tee off.

It may be that some concession could be made for golfers living in sparsely populated areas where driving a long distance to get to your club is the norm. I never imagined that one day I might have more difficulty driving to my home course than driving on it.

John Wann

Greenbank Crescent, Edinburgh

Idyllic Orkney?

In my evidence to the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee I said that Orkney could possibly come out of lockdown earlier than other parts of Scotland. I did not say that this would be a trial, as has been suggested (‘Islanders can’t be used as guinea pigs for lockdown exit trials’, 6 May) but would be contingent on a robust testing regime being in place to search for any virus getting under the radar.

Orkney is one of the best places in Europe to be at present. Only a handful of Covid-19 cases, all in the past; nobody in hospital with it for more than a month; a testing facility on the island giving a two-hour turnaround time for results; an excellent public health system and controls on incomers.

Hugh Pennington

Carlton Place, Aberdeen

The corona wall

I have been thinking about Boris Johnson’s comment when he came out of hospital that this was the moment of maximum risk. The figures and the mood music at present suggest that the current situation is passing. We see the headline figures going downwards, people are debating the fine details of easing the lockdown and politicians who largely don’t know any better are trying to pick fault, create differences in opinion and differentiate their views on how to progress from others. It is particularly outrageous and disrespectful to be counting the dead bodies and comparing us to others at the moment. This problem has a long way to run yet, and we don’t know what the final situation is going to look like.

There are plenty of signs that the discipline and resolve we all require is beginning to break down. We can see the extra cars on the road, people are being a little less cautious and over and above this, for many people the unnatural life we are currently living is mentally tough and beginning to bite. There is most certainly a corona wall which many are currently running into, even with the best intent to stay the course.

In Scotland, there is an underlying political need to differentiate ourselves from others, at least in some quarters. Having now been to the shops since the announcement that we should wear masks, I know that no-one is wearing them, no-one is asking that they should be worn, no-one cares if they are being worn and there is no obvious supply of them. That particular policy did not work well.

This week’s wheeze is to replace Trace, Track and Test with Trace, Test and Isolate, only without using the UK app, although people can use it if they want to and the Scottish Government are engaged in producing it. That is clear as mud as well.

This is indeed the moment of highest risk and the relentless splitting of hairs is making it more so. I think that staring death in the face will have cleared Boris’s mind on this matter and given him a clarity and understanding that others do not seem to yet possess.

Victor Clements

Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Mind the acronym

I notice a new government-inspired initialisation creeping into everyday usage; TTI – Test, Trace, Isolate – joining the likes of PPE, WFH and ICU in our post-coronavirus vocabulary. In the event of testing positive for Covid-19, surely it would be more sensible and effective to isolate immediately, before the tracing operation kicks in, even though this would prove acronymically rather unfortunate.

Andy Davey

St Andrews Road, Peebles

Tracing costs

Does it really make sense in times of intense pressure on local council budgets to replicate a Scottish version of the UK government’s planned contact-tracing app? Do we really need to incur the costs and training of 2,000 people to replicate something already paid for and staffed by the UK taxpayer, whose usage could easily be extended from 56 million people to 66m? It won’t be long I suspect before we will be discussing integration delays and costs, and who pays for them, so that the man on the Duns to Berwick bus feels as protected as anyone from Cornwall or Inverness

Ian Gray

Moray Place, Edinburgh

A space to talk

Re: Brian Monteith’s article regarding a grown up conversation between the Scottish Government and those living in Scotland (Perspective, 4 May). There is a lot to find agreement with in this article and those of us who shout at the TV at times in frustration will largely concur with at least some of the comments.

However, I suggest that the frustration not only stems from the direction of our government’s priorities but also from the lack of any voice to have our frustrations aired, let alone listened to. If there is a genuine desire to make contact with us, the people, we need to have a channel to air our thoughts and preferences and above all, to see that there is a genuine response.

I’m not talking referendum or being heard by the parliament, but an upfront, perhaps online forum where the general public can comment, read comments from others and see a response from the government as a reaction to those comments. Of course there will be crackpot comments as well as considered points of view, but the disconnect between our governing bodies and the public within what is called a democracy is such that we really need to correct the lack of contact that we the public have with our governments both at national and local level.

Tony Lewis

Parklands

Coylton, Ayrshire

Small is beautiful

Douglas Cowe (Letters, 4 May) repeated the mantra that Scotland could not have dealt with the coronavirus pandemic without the assistance of the UK. Funnily enough, a whole raft of small countries have managed the crisis economically and with many fewer deaths without having the shelter of the ‘broad shoulders’ of the UK. We only have to look at the situation in Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Taiwan, Finland and New Zealand to see that they have coped better than the UK. Perhaps it’s because they didn’t dither and hadn’t run down their health services, as happened in England. Or is it because their very size and independent status means they have control over all their economic levers and can be more nimble and flexible in their decision-making.

It certainly does appear that the public believe that the Scottish Government is doing a good job with a poll taken at the end of April indicating support for that view from 70 per cent of Conservative voters. The survey also indicated that in the next Holyrood election, 54 per cent of voters intend to vote for the SNP in the constituency vote and 45 per cent in the regional vote. That’s an increase of 8 per cent in each category and would give the SNP an outright majority in the parliament. Douglas Cowe may disagree, but the voters backing this view can’t all be diehards.

Gill Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Short measures

Mary Thomas states: “The Scottish Government cannot print money and run up massive debts like the UK” (Letters, 6 May). So far, the Scottish Government has had in the region of £3.4 billionin support to deal with the pandemic. Perhaps Ms Thomas would like to tell us where, had Scotland achieved independence, Nicola Sturgeon or Mr Salmond, had he been First Minister, would have gone to find the finance to fight the virus if she feels the SNP regime cannot “run up massive debts”.

It is having the strength of the UK behind us that provides Scotland with the muscle it has. Had we been independent and faced with the pandemic, the finances of Scotland would be in a very sorry state but, of course, nationalists seem to prefer high taxes, reduced public services and austerity to achieve the ‘freedom’ they so desire.

Douglas Cowe

Alexander Avenue

Kingseat, Newmachar

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