COVID-19 won't stop some N.S. golf courses from opening
Two golf courses plan to open this weekend, but clubhouses will be closed
Update: When Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency on March 22, 2020, it ordered all golf courses in the province closed as of March 23. All golf courses must stay closed while the state of emergency is in effect.
While many businesses are having to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some golf courses are preparing to open for the season and make way for golfers to safely tune up their backswings.
"You certainly don't have to pull out the pin on every hole, you don't have to shake hands," said David Campbell, executive director of the Nova Scotia Golf Association.
Campbell said he's recommended golf courses make social distancing a priority, especially in pro shops and clubhouses. But on the greens and fairways, he said it shouldn't be hard for players to keep their distance from each other.
Two golf courses are scheduled to open in Nova Scotia this weekend — Eden Golf and Country Club in Paradise, and River Hills Golf and Country Club in Clyde River.
Getting 'stir crazy'
Both are keeping their clubhouses closed and operating pro shops through a window.
Campbell said his office has been fielding calls and emails this week from people wondering if and when courses are opening because "they're getting stir crazy."
"I think there is opportunity for golf courses to open to people to get outside and play," Campbell said.
Public health officials and politicians have been adamant about the importance of limiting contact and, when appropriate, self-isolating to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Safe to go outside
But Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said that doesn't mean staying indoors all the time.
"We actually want people to be out and about, cycling, walking," Strang said at a news conference Thursday.
He said playgrounds are not a good choice, because "lots of hands go on things that we can't control."
"But by all means, take your kids out and enjoy the spring weather that we're starting to get."
Strang said it's important to distinguish between the order for everyone to physically distance themselves from one another by at least two metres, and the order for some individuals to self-isolate.
Public health officials across Canada continue to recommend that anyone returning from international travel should self-isolate for 14 days. So should anyone who has come into close contact with an international traveller, or anyone who has the novel coronavirus.
"[Self-isolation] means staying at home as much as you can. But you can still go out and about as long as you are avoiding contact with other people. By all means, go out and work in your yard, take your dog for a walk, cycle," said Strang.
"But if you need groceries, if you need your prescriptions picked up, ask somebody else to do that. Communities are mobilizing to support people who are self-isolating. Don't go get your groceries yourself."
As of Thursday, there are five confirmed and nine presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.