Ford to keep golf courses closed amid cries for outdoor activities to return

Golf courses across the province will remain closed until at least June as part of an announcement made by Premier Doug Ford on extending Ontario’s current stay-at-home orders.

The stay-at-home orders, which have now been extended until June 2, prohibit all outdoor recreational activities, such as golf courses, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields.

While speaking to the media, Ford pointed to mobility as a reason to keep outdoor activities closed.

“I talked to my buddies, I know what happens. You know, they pick up another buddy, two or three, they go out golfing and there’s nothing wrong with golfing, the problem is the mobility,” Ford said.

“Then after golf they go back, they have a few pops. That's the problem. That's the issue.”

The closing of outdoor recreational activities has ruffled the feathers of some experts who say that the risk of outdoor transmission is low.

“Golf is undeniably safe and that is a credit to all the golf clubs and course operators who have implemented stringent protocols to create a safe recreational experience,” executive director of Golf Ontario, Mike Kelly told CTV News Toronto.

“To be clear, mobility is not an issue with golf and many other safe outdoor activities. [..] The data from 2020 is clear that golf is being played within golfers’ home communities,” continued Kelly.

Kelly said Golf Ontario is fully aligned with the advice of medical experts, claiming that “outdoor activities are not only good for you, but they are also safe.”

Infectious diseases specialist and member of the province's vaccine distribution task force, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, agrees that outdoor activities pose much less of a risk than indoor ones.

“From a medical, scientific and public health standpoint, we know that outdoor environments are way safer compared to indoor environments when we look at transmission,” he told CTV News Toronto.

However, it will still be a few weeks before golfers can hit the green again.

“We just can’t risk it. Just hang in there for, we’re asking a lot, just a couple more weeks,” Ford said.