Golf Ontario COVID-19 Updates

APRIL 7, 2021 UPDATE

 

Golf Courses to Remain OPEN During the New Stay at Home Order

 

Dear Golf Industry Partners / Key Stakeholders,

 

Premier Ford and the ON government announced today that the province is going into a province-wide declaration of emergency and a stay-at-home order effective at 12:01am on Thursday April 8th. Included in this announcement is confirmation that outdoor golf courses and driving ranges can remain open.

 

Click here for official announcement on April 7th.
Click here for current details on the Stay At Home Order details (and the underlying
Emergency Brake guidelines) on the ON government website updated on April 7th indicating golf courses and driving ranges allowed to be opened.

 

Ontario’s We Are Golf partners have been actively engaged with the ON government throughout this process, right up to, and including this morning. The key message has been that GOLF IS SAFE and that now, more than ever, safe outdoor recreational options will be critical to ensure the physical and mental well-being of Ontarians. We have reiterated our commitment as a golf industry to continue to be a LEADER in Ontario in providing one of these safe recreational activities that will be so important in the coming weeks.

 

We are happy that the ON government has recognized the need for safe outdoor activities like golf, but at the same time recognize that it is CRITICAL that we CONTINUE TO BE SAFE in 2021. Please ensure you are adhering to the following:

 

NEW Masks on Cart Rule – If you are allowing 2 riders from different households on a
cart, they MUST wear a mask while in the cart. (click here for complete details and signage).
Physical Distancing – All staff and players must stay at least 6 feet apart. If not able to do this, a mask must be worn.
Clear and consistent screening protocols – Please ensure you have these in place.
Gatherings – There is a maximum outdoor gathering limit of 5 people. Please do not allow for pre or post game gatherings at your facilities.
Retail / Pro Shop – Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions.
Food & Beverage Outlets – During the current Stay-At-Home Order there is NO indoor or outdoor (patio) food service allowed. Facilities are allowed to proceed with Pick Up, Take Out
and Delivery, and as such, that would indicate that your Halfway Hut can be open on the course for your golfers (with all seating removed) and beverage cart service would be allowed for golfers during their round.

 

We implore all facilities to be extremely diligent in following all key protocols. Golf facilities MUST demonstrate leadership in these areas if we want continue to be recognized as a safe, outdoor activity. Please continue to do your part. Thank you and stay safe!

 

Note: These continue to be tough times for everyone. While happy that golf courses will be open in Ontario, there will be many, many businesses very negatively impacted by this stay-at-home order and we need to be mindful of this. We ask that in any external communications (social media, etc.) you be very aware of your messaging and ensure you are being thankful that golf will be able to provide a SAFE outlet for the physical and mental well-being of Ontarians. We don’t want to be too celebratory in our tone in light of the significant challenges other businesses are facing.

 

 

APRIL 1, 2021 UPDATE

 

Dear Partners/Key Stakeholders:

 

Outdoor Golf Courses and Driving Ranges CAN REMAIN OPEN During Current “Emergency Brake”

 

In anticipation of today’s announcement from Premier Ford, and ahead of rumors of a potential move into Shutdown zone, yesterday your Ontario We Are Golf partners took the initiative with key industry stakeholders to send out hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls to key government officials urging them to rescind the change in the ON legislation that had revoked outdoor golf facilities and driving ranges from O. Reg. 82/20. This concerted effort was proactively done, not knowing the exact direction a potential change in restrictions would look like. Here is the copy from the letter to Premier Ford:

 

Prior to the January 2021 Shutdown, there was a change in the ON legislation that removed golf from the list of recreational amenities allowed to be open during a Shutdown. It is noted in O. Reg. 82/20: RULES FOR AREAS IN STAGE 1 – (Shutdown, Schedule 3, Recreational amenities, Section 4.2.9 – this previously included “outdoor golf facilities and driving ranges”, but now is REVOKED O. Reg. 10/21, s. 3 (3)).

 

We request that this change to Shutdown legislation is overturned immediately.  Looking at this current list, it has been deemed safe for Ontarians to use baseball diamonds, batting cages, tennis courts, basketball courts, skate parks, BMX parks, frisbee golf locations, horse riding facilities, shooting ranges, recreational areas containing outdoor fitness equipment, and more! However, golf (one of the safest activities on this list) is not included … PLEASE RECTIFY THIS ERROR AND OMISSION IMMEDIATELY! Golf has numerous safety protocols now in place from the moment golfers arrive until departure which allows for social distancing in a safe outdoor environment while being monitored … many of these other alternatives do not!

 

We are happy to report that in today’s announcement from Premier Ford, it is primarily good news for golf facilities. The government has announced that all public health units will move to “Emergency Brake” zone for 28-days, and as such outdoor golf facilities and driving ranges will be able to be open during this period. The unfortunate news is that indoor golf facilities will be negatively impacted by this.

 

Click here for today’s official announcement.  Complete details of the “Emergency Brake” are available here but the key elements are:

  • Outdoor golf courses and driving ranges are to remain open!
  • All indoor and outdoor food service must be closed
  • Only F&B services available include Take-out, Drive-thru, and Delivery
  • Retail outlets (Pro Shop) can be open at 25% capacity

We are happy that the ON government has recognized the importance of golf as a safe recreational outlet for physical and mental well-being. Having said that, it is more important than ever that golf facilities CONTINUE TO BE SAFE in 2021. As you open in 2021, it is important that you plan to continue to implement the successful protocols from 2020 that we know will make us successful again in 2021. Here is a link to the NGCOA Canada’s Best Practices & Operational Resources that was created last season for Ontario golf courses.

 

Again, based on everything we know today, the directive for 2021 is for golf facilities to follow the same protocols on the course that you had in place in 2020, with one significant difference – concerning the required wearing of face masks while on carts (click here for complete details and signage). Please note that authority for interpretation of this falls with the local PHU so if you are uncertain in your region, please reach out to your local PHU inspector/official.

 

SPECIAL NOTE: These continue to be tough times for everyone. While happy that golf courses will be open, there will be many, many businesses very negatively impacted by this 28-day set of restrictions and we need to be mindful of this. We ask that in any external communications (social media etc.) you be very aware of your messaging so as not to put the golf industry in the spotlight right now. The messaging should very much focus on health and safety for golfers and being thankful that golf will be able to provide a safe outlet for the physical and mental well-being of Ontarians. We don’t want to be too celebratory in our tone in light of the significant challenges other businesses are facing.

 

We are excited that the government has listened and recognized the importance to Ontarians for all outdoor golf facilities to be allowed to remain open during this upcoming 28-day period (and beyond) and look forward to working together with all of you to build on the momentum from 2020 to have another strong year in 2021.

 

Yours in golf.

 

 

 

 

MARCH 26, 2021 UPDATE

Dear Partners/Key Stakeholders:

We hope you are all enjoying the onset of the beautiful spring weather and looking forward to the 2021 golf season. In our previous letter dated February 24, we referenced the fact that we were happy to have worked with the Ontario government to ensure that golf would be included as a recreational option upon the return to the provincial colour coded framework. We are sure you are all working hard to get your courses ready for the season.

One of the key messages is that we all need to work to CONTINUE TO BE SAFE in 2021. As an industry, we proved in 2020 that with the right protocols in place, golf was incredibly safe. As a result of the diligence of our golf courses with these protocols, as far as we know, not one person contracted COVID as a result of playing golf this past season. Looking ahead to 2021, it is important that you plan to continue to implement the successful protocols from 2020 that we know will make us successful again in 2021. Here is a link to the NGCOA Canada’s Best Practices & Operational Resources that was created last season for Ontario golf courses. 

 Equally importantly, it is important to note that ultimately, it is the government with the local Public Health Unit (PHU) authorities that are setting the guidelines for businesses. Your We Are Golf partners are committed to continuing to stay in close contact with the government to ensure timely communications of any changes.

Here are a few key links for your reference that we encourage you to check back on regularly to ensure you are following proper guidance.

Again, based on everything we know today, the directive for 2021 is for golf facilities to follow the same protocols on the course that you had in place in 2020, with one significant difference: 

Face Masks Required in Carts

The one new regulation that has been written concerns carts and masks. This clause is in the regulation links above for all five colour coded regions. Specifically, it states:

Any person, including a person who performs work at the amenity, while driving or riding on an open-air vehicle within the amenity, must wear a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin, unless,

i. the person driving or riding on the vehicle is entitled to any of the {following exceptions]:

i. is a child who is younger than two years of age,

ii. has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering,

iii. is unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person,

iv. needs to temporarily remove their mask or face covering as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety,

v. is being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005,

vi. is being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code.

ii. all persons driving or riding on the vehicle are members of a single household.

We have been speaking with high-ranking ON government officials, and they are unable to provide written confirmation of the exact interpretation of this regulation. As well, one of our facilities in the Windsor Essex region was in contact with their local PHU officials. While we do not have firm written guidance, it is our understanding that the cart rules for the 2021 golf season should be as follows:

  • All persons driving or riding on the vehicle who are members of same household, are not required to wear masks.
  • Further to this, a solo rider is therefore also not required to wear a mask.
  • Two people driving or riding together on the vehicle who are not from the same household are required to wear a mask.
  • This direction on masks supersedes any previous direction on cart dividers. You are certainly free to continue to use cart dividers if your facility would prefer, but use of divider is not required, and does not negate the need for masks for two or more riders in the same cart from different households.

Here is a link to the NGCOA Canada’s Signage Templates which now includes the Face Masks Required in Carts sign.

It was also indicated that authority for interpretation of this falls with the local PHU so if you are uncertain in your region, please reach out to your local PHU inspector/official.

Recent Significant Changes in Orange, Red & Grey Zones Impacting your F&B Operation

As of March 20th, the ON government has adjusted dining capacity limits at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, for regions in the Grey-Lockdown, Red-Control and Orange-Restrict levels of the Framework.

For regions in the Orange-Restrict and Red-Control levels, capacity limits for indoor dining will be adjusted and based on a standard, scalable calculation that will allow for up to approximately 50 per cent of the indoor dining area to be accessible to the public, subject to physical distancing rules. The total occupancy cannot exceed 50 patrons in Red-Control and 100 patrons in Orange-Restrict.

In addition, while indoor dining continues to be prohibited for areas in the Grey-Lockdown level of the Framework, outdoor dining is now permitted for regions in Grey-Lockdown, subject to physical distancing rules and a number of other public health and workplace safety measures.

To ensure the continued safety of patrons and workers, public health and safety measures in indoor and outdoor settings have also been strengthened in the OrangeRed and Grey levels in the Framework. These measures include, but are not limited to: (note – click on colour zones above for full details)

  • Limiting tables for indoor dining to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; (NOTE – this does NOT apply to golfers dining outdoors on your patio).
  • Limiting tables for outdoor dining in Grey-Lockdown to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; and
  • A sign posted by the establishment in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity (number of patrons) they are permitted to operate under.

COVID-19 continues to be a challenging virus, resulting in ever-changing direction and guidance for us all. We encourage you to check back on these links regularly and if you have questions, reach out to your local PHU for clarity immediately. 

We are extremely excited that all outdoor golf facilities will be allowed to be open in all five colours of the framework and look forward to working together with all of you to build on the momentum from 2020 to have another fantastic year in 2021. 

Yours in golf. 

 

May 29, 2020 UPDATE

Golf Ontario announced today that it has released the NEW 2020 Golf Ontario Championship schedule. With additional time needed to ensure that Golf Ontario Championships are staged in the most safe and responsible manner possible given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Golf Ontario has had to make significant revisions to the 2020 schedule of championships, while able to maintain a strong slate of the most important championships. Read full article here >>

 

May 29, 2020 UPDATE

On this date an email went out to Championship players with an update on our 2020 scheduling. At that point, we had postponed all qualifiers and championship events through to the end of June.

 

May 14, 2020 DOCUMENTATION UPDATE

Here are links to some of the key guidelines and resources around today’s re-opening of golf courses announcement

From our friends at the NGCOA: Best practices

 

May 14, 2020 UPDATE

Great News for Golf in Ontario!

Ontario Government Permitting Golf to Open Saturday, May 16th!

Thank you to everyone for your patience and commitment to your facilities as we all have worked through these challenging times. Ontario’s We Are Golf partners have been working very hard to create a path to safe golf and we are thrilled that this work has resulted in the Ontario Government allowing golf courses to re-open. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this process and the collaboration across groups has been wonderful to see.

As you just heard, golf in Ontario is permitted to open on Saturday May 16th. However clubhouses may only open for washrooms access and restaurants may only open for take-out.

Golf course operators must adhere to social distancing and personal hygiene rules as well as to understand and follow the Provincial Government’s Guidance for Golf Operators recommended protocols and the Health and Safety Association Guidance Documents for Workplaces During the COVID-19 Outbreak. Please click on the links below to download these documents:

With respect to tee-times, it is suggested that you follow protocol GO-006 in the Golf Operations section of Ontario’s We Are Golf Protocol document. Please click below to download the protocols.

Although golf has been allowed to open, you are not required to do so at this point in time. However, if you are opening, please make sure you have appropriate signage and are able to follow all of the provincial guidelines as well as those outlined above in Ontario’s We Are Golf protocols to ensure a safe environment for your staff, golfers, and the general public from the spread of COVID-19.

Golf being allowed to open is great news for Ontarians who have been looking for a safe way to physical distance while getting outside. It will be a big boost to our collective mental health as well and will help kickstart the economic recovery in Ontario. Having said that, it is very important that we get this right! We must all commit to adhering to these guidelines to ensure that we provide a safe environment.

We will continue to send you updates if more information becomes available. Thank you and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Respectfully,

Mike Kelly
Executive DirectorGolf Ontariomkelly@gao.ca
Shawn Hunter
Regional DirectorNational Golf Course Owners Association Canada (NGCOA)
shunter@ngcoa.ca
Melanie van der Hoop
Executive DirectorProfessional Golfers’ Association of Ontario (PGA of Ontario)
melanie@pgaofontario.com
 

Cory Janzen
Director

Ontario Golf Superintendents’ Association (OGSA)

cjanzen@WestmountGolf.com

 

Chris Serré

Ontario Branch President

Canadian Society of Club Managers (CSCM)
cserre@rosedalegolf.org

 

 

May 1, 2020 UPDATE

Ontario Government Tells Golf Courses to Prepare to Open

 In light of the recent announcements by Premier Ford, we wanted to give you a quick update on what we have been doing to continue to push for the re-opening of golf courses.

Further to the announcement by Premier Ford of the ‘Framework for Reopening Our Province’, an announcement came out today allowing select seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects to open on May 4. Golf courses, although not yet able to open, were included with the following statement … “Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public”. This is encouraging and we hope is an indication that the ability to open is coming soon.

Ontario’s We Are Golf partners (Golf Ontario, the NGCOA, PGA of Ontario, OGSA, and CSCM-ON) have continued to work very closely together to communicate a clear plan for golf’s return within a safe and healthy environment. Golf is naturally aligned to the principles of safe social distancing, and this is why, along with today’s announcement, we remain very hopeful that the opening of golf courses is coming very soon.

Two weeks ago, Ontario’s We Are Golf partners submitted a letter to Premier Doug Ford, and each member of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. A follow up letter went out today, and both letters outlined what a clear path to safe golf could look like for Ontario, and that we strongly recommend that golf courses be one of the first industries to open for business.

We are excited about the announcement from the government asking courses to prepare to get ready. Please be assured that Ontario’s We Are Golf partners are working in a unified fashion to help get golf courses open on behalf of the entire golf industry.

 

 

April 21, 2020

Ontario’s We Are Golf Partners Working on your Behalf

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of unprecedented uncertainty and change in recent weeks and we hope you are managing well through these challenging times.

Further to the announcement by Premier Ford that the State of Emergency for Ontario would be extended through to May 12th, you may be wondering what the Ontario golf industry is doing on your behalf.

With the recent creation of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, the Government of Ontario has clearly indicated a focus on developing an action plan for economic recovery. At the same time, Ontario’s We Are Golf partners (Golf Ontario, the NGCOA, PGA of Ontario, OGSA, and CSCM-ON) have been working very closely together to develop a clear plan for golf’s return within a safe and healthy environment. Golf is naturally aligned to the principles of safe social distancing, and with some key precautions, can provide Ontarians with some much-needed exercise, mental stimulation, and safe social time with family or friends. We believe these principles align well with the role of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee.

Last week, Ontario’s We Are Golf partners submitted a letter to Premier Doug Ford, and each member of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. This letter outlined what a clear path to safe golf could look like for Ontario, and also highlighted key economic factors which help to illustrate the importance of the golf industry for the province.

The clear goal is to ensure that golf courses are among the first allowable activities to open for business when economic recovery strategies are put in place and stay at home guidelines start to be lifted in Ontario.

Rest assured that Ontario’s We Are Golf partners are working in a unified fashion to deliver the appropriate messaging to our government bodies on behalf of the entire golf industry

 

 

April 6, 2020


A message from PGA Champion Corey Conners

 

UPDATE: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
March 27, 2020

 

We are all in this together

 

I wanted to take the opportunity to talk directly, and authentically, to each and every one of you to share my thoughts on Golf Ontario’s decisions in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Hopefully my message was helpful in sharing our stance on many of our upcoming activities. If you are not able to watch it or need more context, the rest of this note will provide that.

The COVID-19 challenge continues to evolve extremely rapidly. Since our last update on March 13, there have been many significant developments in the fight against this virus, including:

  • Postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, virtual closing of the Canada-US border, and the CDC advising against gatherings of 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks
  • The announcement yesterday by the government of Ontario that they have mandated the closure of all non-essential workplaces

We continue to closely monitor the rapidly changing developments and to try and make the right decisions for the health and safety of not only our organization but also for all of our stakeholders as well.

With this in mind, since our last update of March 16, we have taken the following actions:

  • We have postponed the Jr. Boys and Jr. Girls Spring Classic events
  • We have postponed the Ada McKenzie and the Ontario-Michigan Senior Matches
  • We have postponed the Men’s Better-Ball Championship
  • We have postponed the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame Induction ceremony
  • We have also temporarily suspended the process for registrations for any qualifiers.

We also know that things can change daily, if not hourly. Our teams have been working tirelessly to re-work our Championship schedule as new information comes available, and we will continue to closely evaluate our other upcoming Championships to determine the appropriate course of action. Golf Ontario is committed to continuing to communicate these changes in a timely and transparent manner.

We are all in this together and believe golf is well positioned to emerge and thrive when the time is right for Canadians to return to recreational normalcy.

Mike Kelly, PGA
Executive Director, Golf Ontario

 

 

 

UPDATE: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
March 25, 2020

Golf Ontario stands together with the other NAGA and provincial WE ARE GOLF partners in supporting the following statement

 

 

UPDATE: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
March 16, 2020

This is an update on the actions Golf Ontario has taken with respect to concerns over the COVID-19 and to assure you that Golf Ontario is doing everything we can to support our stakeholders through this difficult time. Emails have gone out with much of this information already to many of our key stakeholder groups.

As an organization, we want to play our part in flattening our communities curve of exposure to the virus and put in place new precautionary measures while we make decision informed by the latest science-based information.

There are new developments and information coming forward daily, and some in cases hourly (i.e. school closures, LPGA/PGA TOUR postponement of events, US-Europe travel restrictions and NBA/NHL/MLB postponement of its season along with regular updates and mitigating precautions from health and government officials, etc.). We

continue to update our policies and evaluate our operational activities.

Update on Activities

Golf Ontario has an internal team meeting regularly to discuss this evolving situation and to make wise decisions.

  • The development of contingency plans, both for operational and for risk mitigation purposes.
  • Regular consult with Golf Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee Chief Medical Officer and the Ontario Ministry of Sport.
  • Monitoring updates and identified precautions from national and local health organizations including Health Canada and Toronto Public Health.
  • Encouraging all staff and volunteers to practice precautions, especially identified travel precautions which include continuing to monitor one’s own health, practice social distancing and hand washing, and to contact a health professional should they develop any symptoms

Golf Ontario Precautionary Measures Implemented Thus Far:

  • Taking the lead from Golf Canada, we have cancelled all business travel until at least April 6
  • Any personal travel outside of Canada by any staff to be reported to Golf Ontario HR including over the upcoming March break.
  • Work from home precautions for staff. We have mandated that all staff work from home between March 16 and April 5th.
  • We will also be mandating that all staff in-person meetings that have been scheduled be transitioned to conference calls or postponed if necessary

Can-Am Matches:

In consultation with the South Carolina Golf Association and the Canadian Olympic Committee Chief Medical Officer, we have made the decision to cancel the Can-Am matches scheduled for next week in Myrtle Beach.

Upcoming workshops/Meetings/Events:

There are a number of Rules Exams and World Handicap Seminars as well as Officials Days on the calendar. In the short term, we will not be delivering those in person and are working with our various partners to determine the best method of delivering these sessions. Options may include: a) delivering some of the sessions by way of webinars or videos; or b) postponing some or all of the sessions. We will keep you informed of any changes to delivery methods or dates as we make these decisions. Many of these meetings may involve our facilities directly. We trust that you understand the need to adjust these meeting plans during this challenging time.

Upcoming Championship Season

Golf Ontario is proactively monitoring the situation and will gauge potential future decisions regarding our 2020 Championship season on confirmed information as the situation evolves in the weeks to come.

Apr
07