Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce the reopening of Ontario’s golf courses at a news conference on Thursday, several senior sources tell 680 NEWS.
It is not clear if the courses will be open in time for the long weekend or not.
The premier’s office declined comment on the story saying that it did not have any details to provide at this time.
Golf courses will have to adhere to social distancing measures, which means that most tournaments won’t go ahead. Most courses said they will also be running only a skeleton event schedule.
Two weeks ago, the Ford government said golf courses could prepare to open, and last Friday, Ford was asked when golf courses could reopen.
“I have a lot of friends that are golfers and they are lobbying hard for this golf … they are giving me every single reason why they should be able to go out there and physically distance … they told me they won’t take carts, they’ll walk,” Ford said.
At that time, Ford said he would consult with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and other members of the health team.
“Eventually they’ll be able to get back on the golf course based on the safety and the protocol … I will bring that back to the team, and again, safety is the number one concern.”
Terry Kim, director of golf at the Angus Glen Golf Club, said the club and its golfers are excited about the prospect of golf courses reopening.
“It is our start to getting back to what normal should be, so we’re looking forward to getting our golf course open,” Kim said.
Ahead of the reopening, he said several rules will be in effect to ensure physical distancing on the course.
“A big thing will be you can’t arrive to the golf course until 20 minutes prior to your tee time, just so that we don’t have a large people of people in the parking waiting for their times,” Kim said.
“We’ll be implementing a one-cart-per-person rule — we’re fortunate enough here at the golf course that we’ve got over 210 carts, so that we can accommodate a lot of golfers at once. We have spread out the tee times from 10 minutes to 15 minutes to allow for some more spacing between groups.”
The practice areas will be closed, which means golfers are to strictly come to the golf course, get into their golf cart, play a round of golf, and then go home.
Kim also said they will be putting pool noodles in the cups, so that the golf balls don’t fall all the way in. These will eventually be replaced with another mechanism.
Some of the other changes include phone-in food and drink service on the 10th tee only, and tournaments being cancelled throughout May and June.
On Tuesday, the premier said details on the next phase of reopening will be announced on Thursday. He would not provide any specific information as to which businesses would be allowed to reopen or the timing, but said it would be Phase One of their reopening plan.
Retail stores have already been allowed to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery, while hardware stores and garden centres reopened to in-store customers.
Also this week, the province extended its COVID-19 state of emergency to June 2. The state of emergency is dealt with separately from the emergency orders, recently extended to May 19, which cover closures of bars and restaurants except for take-out and delivery, theatres, outdoor amenities such as playgrounds, and child care centres.
Ontario has previously announced that publicly funded schools will be closed until at least May 31, and Ford said that news on child care centres and schools is coming early next week.