England Eases Restrictions On Sports

LONDON (AP) – Liam Harrison missed golf so much that he left his home at 4am on Wednesday to be the first on his club’s tee in Manchester.

The 42-year-old even believes he was the first golfer to play in all of England, after he relaxed containment measures for the coronavirus on golf courses and tennis courts.


A day earlier, Harrison helped place the tops of the holes on three greens as part of a YouTube series by the maintenance staff at the Chorlton-cum-Hardy Golf Club, of which he is a member.

“That gave me permission to go out into the field any time I wanted,” he said. “This morning I said I will go out at 5 in the morning and be the first person in the whole of the UK to play golf after confinement.”

On Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson drew up a “road map” to relax the restrictions, while maintaining the rules of social distancing.

“It’s pretty safe,” Harrison said before starting on the 13th hole of his second round on Wednesday. “We are not stupid, you just have to follow the rules.”

The reopening is part of a moderate relaxation of confinement.

The population will now be able to exercise more than once a day and with a person outside their home, although they must keep a distance of two meters (about 6.5 feet). In addition, you can re-use the tennis and basketball courts outdoors and you can swim in lakes and in the sea.

In addition, garden centers will reopen and prospective home buyers will be able to visit properties in person. And those who cannot work from home, such as factory workers or employees, were encouraged to return to their jobs if they can do so safely.

The easing of some of the restrictions, announced by Johnson, apply only to England. The semi-autonomous governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are slowing down and continue to recommend that the population stay home.

The four territories of the United Kingdom have maintained uniform standards during the closure, which has roared since March 23, but when relaxing the restrictions, they have each chosen to follow their path.

Johnson justified raising the standards by arguing that Britain has overcome the worst phase of the pandemic. The number of daily deaths has been consistently declining for a month. The United Kingdom has recorded the highest number of deaths from coronavirus in Europe, with more than 32,000, and the second highest number of deaths worldwide, after the United States.

Others criticize the government, stating that the applied changes, included in a 50-page document, are confusing and potentially harmful, especially regarding return to work. The guidelines stipulate that those who cannot work from home can go to their workplaces, but that whenever possible they should avoid public transport.

Golf courses and tennis clubs were inundated with calls and emails from their members and the general public following Johnson’s announcement.

At the Kington Golf Club in Herefordshire, managers put sanitizing gel on holes 1 and 18, banned touching the flags, and imposed a one-way route on and off the course.

Wendy Dougles, head of the women’s tournaments at the Welsh border club, said about half of its 375 members are retired.

“If we follow the rules we will be fine,” he said.

The club is 390 meters (1,280 feet) above sea level, making it a beautiful sight especially on hole 8.

“You can see all of Wales and England,” said Douglas. “It is the highest point in the field.”

About 75% of its members renewed their subscription in April, a lower number than in previous years but still “pretty good” with everything that happened, “said Douglas.