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Confirmed: Golf and limited team training to return in early April as Northern Ireland ministers approve restriction changes

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Fortwilliam greenkeeper Chris Kerr busy preparing the course for reopening.

Fortwilliam greenkeeper Chris Kerr busy preparing the course for reopening.

Photopress

Fortwilliam greenkeeper Chris Kerr busy preparing the course for reopening.

Golf courses across Northern Ireland are set to reopen on April 1 as the Stormont Executive has backed a proposal discussed by Ministers.

The loosening of restrictions will allow up to 10 people from two households to meet for certain outdoor activities such as golf. Clubhouses and other such indoor facilities must remain closed.

It is now expected that Golf Ireland, the sport's amateur governing body across the island, will announce its own protocols. For instance, after the first lockdown last year, tee-times had to be spaced out depending on the number of golfers permitted to play together by each individual club. Last year, four-balls were not initially allowed with three-ball tee-times required to be 14 minutes apart.

Outdoor sports training for up to 15 people has been given the all clear to return on April 12 with certain protocols in place.

It's a small step towards the return of competitive team sports but the sweat will be on for football's Irish Cup, currently slated to take place in May and which will require greater numbers to be granted in order for teams outside the Premiership to get up to speed.

The restrictions will be reviewed again on or before April 15.

It was always expected that golf courses would be among the first sports facilities to reopen from lockdown, set to be granted in stage two of the Northern Ireland Executive's dateless five-step plan.

By the end of step two - the 'Cautious First Steps' phase - all outdoor competitive sports can resume without spectators, with the likes of golf and tennis set to get the green light before team sports like football, rugby and Gaelic games.

Indoor activities such as squash and gym-work are due to return during step three, with limited numbers of spectators due to return in step four, those figures increased during step five.

Belfast Telegraph


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