Growing petition calling for the reopening of Ontario golf courses
OTTAWA -- Spring is usually the perfect time to get outside for a little exercise, but there are limits to what you can do during the province-wide stay-at-home order.
Some outdoor enthusiasts say the provincial government has gone too far in shutting down many outdoor amenities.
Avid golfer Eric Smith is one of them.
“I’d say that I’m probably in more danger walking my dog in my neighbourhood than I am out on the golf course,” says Smith. “We live in Canada. We’re cooped up all winter. Getting outdoors is the thing we look forward to the most.”
The Ford government’s province-wide stay-at-home order placed new restrictions on outdoor activities, including golf and tennis.
Kirsty Giles is the president of the Craig Henry Tennis Club in Nepean. All the courts are outside. She says safety has always been their number one priority and having to lock out their members is upsetting.
“So to be told, days before we were planning on opening, that we can’t actually open, is highly disappointing,” says Giles. “There are some petitions circulating, asking the government to perhaps reconsider things like tennis and golf, what have you. Anything that really social distancing can be practiced.”
The online petition has received more than 76,000 signatures, with more being added by the second.
Infection control epidemiologist Dr. Colin Furness says golf and tennis are safe sports that should be permitted.
“When we think about outdoor activities, like tennis or golf, tennis is very low contact. You are literally quite a big distance away from the other person,” says Furness. “I think our emphasis on closing outdoor recreation is misguided. It represents a belief that we cannot educate people. It represents a belief that it’s easier to tell people to stay home, and that it will work. Well, it doesn’t.”
In previous lockdowns, golf courses implemented COVID-19 protocols. Tee-times were spread out. Clubhouse facilities and restaurants had to be closed.
Golf instructor Kevin Haime says golf helps relieve COVID-19 stress.
“We all need to get outside, and we’ve got a handle on it in the golf business. So let us go do it,” says Haime. “I’ve got people every single day thanking me and saying, 'Wow that was great. Thanks so much for being open, and I feel safe here.' So, I think we’ve done our job in our business and I think our whole industry has.”
The Ford Government hasn’t provided reasons why golf and tennis are banned. To date, there have been no known COVID-19 cases from the play on any golf courses in Ontario.