A LOCAL sportsman has urged the government to think again with its lockdown guidelines – and to allow some sports to be played again.
His appeal comes when the government is reported to be considering opening some golf courses – although with some restrictions.
Ross Lovelock from Haslemere – a member of a Surrey golf club – has worked with South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt in the past to unearth some shortcomings in university funding.
Now he says sports guidelines need to be reconsidered.
“How can it possibly be logical or acceptable to the government for people to be allowed to form long queues outside fast-food outlets and go shopping in B&Q – but be banned from playing outdoor non-contact sports?” he said.
“I would suggest the answer is it can’t be justified because it is neither logical or acceptable.
“Quite simply it is a major flaw in this government’s policy and needs changing now.
“I am 100 per cent with the government on the need for social distancing until such time a vaccine or cure is found for Covid-19, because it is pointless to put us under the lockdown and then remove it only for phase two to arrive and do even more damage.
“It is now reported everywhere that the roads are getting busier, people are going out more and the government is planning to reduce some of the lockdowns, for example opening DIY stores and fast-food outlets to help the economy and people’s wellbeing. This is obviously good news.
“However, the safest activities are being ignored.
“I suggest the same attitude should be taken right away to the world of non-contact sport such as tennis, golf, rowing and fishing, and get the clubs reopened immediately to both help the actual non profit-making organisations and the mental health of their members.
“Outdoor non-contact sports are safe to play, and equally simple to implement rules that ensure safety.
“Tennis courts are 24 metres long – a lot further than the two metres requested by the government. Nothing could be safer if the game is played only in twos and that all serving is done by people using their own identifiable balls.
“Golf can also be restricted to just two players at a time, with a minimum of ten minutes between each tee-off time, thus ensuring some 400 yards between each group of players, with flags remaining in the holes and clubhouses closed.
“Fishing or rowing as individuals cannot possibly impact anybody because individuals are more isolated than any other daily activity.
“It is widely reported that with the help of our own R&A golf federation, who are advising on a number of strict restrictions, courses will open in France, Germany and Austria, while courses in Scandinavia have been open since early April. If these countries can manage this, why not the UK?
“Protecting our mental health is fundamental to winning this Covid war.
“As a nation we have been rightly credited with our commitment to the government’s lockdown, but equally it is recognised people’s mental health will understandably be coming under increasing pressure.
“I cannot think of anything better to help people than allowing them to play their favourite sports in a safe and protected manner.”
David Gill, chairman of Farnham Sports Council, said: “I know many of Farnham’s sports clubs are champing at the bit for their activities to recommence.
“Some sports, such as golf will, in a controlled way, be better placed than most others but I’d issue a word of caution.
“Many sports will have to be patient or adapt – we don’t want a second spike of this terrible virus and we all have to defer to the medical and scientific advice.
“The governing bodies of sport are the best placed to advise and guide each sport. When some sporting normality is restored, sport will be a beacon of hope for us all. We’ve missed it.”
Mr Hunt said: “I back the government’s guidelines and it’s important we all do.
“However, if we are beginning to consider an easing of the lockdown, then we need to think about allowing non-contact sports.
“I hope sports like golf, fishing, rowing and tennis are considered with the necessary steps associated with self-distancing.”