Tennis and golf clubs welcome phased easing of restrictions; Business leaders say supports for sector 'must be strengthened'

Tennis and golf clubs welcome phased easing of restrictions; Business leaders say supports for sector 'must be strengthened'

John McHenry, General Manager at Douglas Golf Club. Picture Dan Linehan

There has been a broad welcome across sectors set for reopening following the announcement that some Covid-19 restrictions were set to eas in the next month.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced the phased easing of some restrictions for April which is set to affect some Cork businesses.

The new restrictions in place from April 12 will see a full return to in-school teaching. Two households can meet up with one another outdoors for social and recreational purposes but not in private gardens.

Travel restrictions will be relaxed to enable travel within people’s county or within 20km of a residence if crossing county boundaries and all residential construction projects can recommence.

From April 19, the expansion of elite sports will include training for and playing of national governing-body sanctioned and organised adult intercounty national Gaelic Games Leagues, not including U20 or minor competitions, and certain high- performing athletes as approved by Sport Ireland, in a range of sports.

From April 26, subject to the prevailing public health situation, outdoor sports facilities can reopen, including golf courses and tennis courts, and outdoor visitor attractions can reopen.

Also, those who have the full protection of the vaccine may now visit indoors with one other household which also has full protection.

Secretary of Sunday’s Well Boating and Tennis Club, Dave Hannon, welcomed the news that the club would reopen from April 26 after what he said has been “a frustrating time”.

While recognising that “everyone has been in the same boat”, he said outdoor sporting grounds such as at tennis or golf clubs “are relatively low risk”.

“If you look at parks around the place they’re jam-packed with people and it would be much safer and much better off to have people play in what is a safe environment.

“All the clubs have their protocols in place. During the last and the first wave of this, I didn’t hear of any cases coming out of tennis clubs because people respect the protocols because people don’t want to lose it, so people are very conscious of following them,” he said.

Douglas Golf Course general manager John McHenry, echoed Mr Hannon’s comments and said that there are control mechanisms in place at the club ahead of its reopening next month.

“What people may not understand is that an awful lot of the older members here, and we would have quite an older membership, they very much use the golf club as their social outlet to come and to meet people and get away from their home environment and to be able to offer a facility to allow them to get out and about again is great,” he said.

Cork Chamber President Paula Cogan. Pic Darragh Kane
Cork Chamber President Paula Cogan. Pic Darragh Kane

The Government’s community support, wellbeing programmes, employment and business support continue, with the EWSS, PUP and Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit will be applicable to June 30.Cork Chamber president Paula Cogan, said while the news of phased reopening is welcome, that there is “an irreconcilable tension between public health ambitions and the resumption of full economic activity”.

She said that supports “must be strengthened and extended to 2022, particularly for the most vulnerable sectors”.

The measures announced yesterday will continue up to May 4, at which point the full reopening of construction activity, phased return of non-essential retail, reopening of museums, galleries and libraries and the recommencement of religious services on a staggered basis will be considered.

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