Golf courses in Scotland are unlikely to reopen before the beginning of June after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the next review of lockdown restrictions would not be made for another 10 days.
It had been reported at the weekend that the Scottish Government was expected to ease restrictions on some outdoor activities this week, paving the way for golf’s imminent return.
In her daily Covid-19 briefing today, which revealed just two deaths overnight from the virus, the First Minister said she planned to publish a lockdown exit "route map" on Thursday.
That includes "some limited outdoor sports activities like golf and fishing" being allowed, but the exact date of when the green light will be given is still not known.
"Assuming we see progress, the first phase will start from the next formal review date of 28 May," said Sturgeon.
She added that the relaxing of outdoor activities and the limited outdoor sports activities could be allowed "within a few days of that".
Courses in Scotland have been closed since the lockdown guidelines were announced on 23 March.
English courses reopened last Wednesday after being given the green light by the UK Government.
Courses in both Wales and the Republic of Ireland reopened on Monday, when the green light was given for the same step to take place in Northern Ireland.
The Golfing Union of Ireland has said that will happen on Wednesday, with guidelines to clubs on social distancing having been issued at the weekend. That deemed golf had been classed as a “low-risk activity”.
“Golf clubs will be relieved players will be returning to their fairways,” said Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster in announcing the easing of restrictions as part of the first step of their recovery plan.
The delay to courses reopening in Scotland was widely criticised on social media, where the general consensus was disbelief at venues remaining closed to golfers as they grow in popularity with walkers, runners and cyclists.
“Bonkers,” wrote Tom Abbott, who works for the Golf Channel in the US, of Scotland’s courses remaining closed while retired Blairgowrie professional and former Ryder Cup referee Charles Dernie said: “People’s mental well-being needs a lift and some sports can be pretty safe. Think she’s missed an opportunity here.”
In a statement on the First Minister’s daily briefing, Scottish Golf said it “welcomed” the announcement about details of Scotland’s route map being revealed.
The governing body added: “Scottish Golf are working through final details with the Scottish Government and sportscotland to ensure that when the time is right, golf can be included in any extension to restrictions and we look forward to sharing more detail of the Scottish Government’s publication on Thursday.”
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