A drone video shows the changes in the Coachella Valley as the coronavirus keeps people at home.
Palm springs desert sun
Now on the first tee, all golfers in Riverside County.
After closing all golf courses on April 2 and declaring that they will not reopen until June 19, the Riverside County Department of Public Health issued an amended order Monday afternoon to open all golf courses .
In an amended April 20 order, the county said courses throughout the county, including the golf-rich Coachella Valley, may reopen, but with restrictions on COVID-19, or the coronavirus.
“Effective immediately, the Riverside County Health Agent and the County Executive Agent as Director of Emergency Services hereby order that all Riverside County golf courses, whether public or private, can be opened for limited use, as indicated herein, ”Declares the draft order.
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“The game is cautiously reopened for viewing,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer.
“After consulting with public health officials and local leaders, we made changes to golf and other forms of recreational activities, such as the use of parks, trails and outdoor spaces for hiking , biking, pickleball and tennis to resume, “said V. Manuel Perez, supervisor of the fourth district. “With proper safety guidelines, our residents can enjoy healthy activities that promote physical exercise, well-being and behavioral health as long as physical distance is practiced. We will continue to listen to and base our decisions on careful review, best practices, data and science. “
The closure of the golf courses has been a point of contention between the county and golfers and the county’s golf courses, especially the Coachella Valley rich in golf. The county wanted to limit large gatherings of people that can occur in golf clubs, restaurants and bars in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus.
Golfers have argued that the sport allows for social distancing and can be played safely with appropriate limitations. They also argued that sport is a recreational activity such as hiking or walking and should be treated as such by the county.
Many golf courses have tried restrictions such as no hitting sticks, no bunkers rakes and modified cups that did not allow a ball to fall to the bottom of the cup. The county said it was not enough and still closed the courts. Some courses did not even have more than one rider in a golf cart.
In the new county order, golfers wear face covers at all times, such as scarves, bandanas, neck warmers, and other fabric coverings. In addition, the food and beverage facilities on the golf courses cannot provide meals at the clubhouse, but only delivery and pickup. Other facilities, such as gymnasiums, fitness centers, beauty salons and spas, should remain closed.
The ordinance also insists that the courses follow the “Park and Play: Making Your Course Social Distance Ready” program developed by the National Golf Courses Owners Association. This requires six feet of distance between players, except for household members.
“No large gathering, including, but not limited to, tournaments and fundraisers, shall be organized, organized by or take place either public or private, at any time before June 20, 2020, in the waiting for a new order from the head of public health, “continues the order. .
In addition to golf, the county order has also addressed other outdoor recreational activities such as pickleball, tennis, hiking and biking.
“Parks, trails and other outdoor spaces can be used for walking, jogging, hiking, biking, horse riding and other non-contact outdoor sports such as golf, pickleball and tennis” , specifies the ordinance. “Social distance and masks must be maintained at all times. “
Although golf was banned under county ordinances, the maintenance of the golf course was described as a vital activity by the county in the April 2 decree. The idea was that golf courses should be allowed to open quickly when the county lifts the non-golf order, so the courses must be watered and mowed.
“We could go tomorrow,” said Jim Robinson, golf manager at the 36-hole Indian Ridge Country Club in Palm Desert.
Riverside County originally closed golf courses in March and said golf was not considered a critical business by Governor Gavin Newsom when he issued on-site shelter orders this month latest. Many desert golf courses remained open until April 2, when the county returned with tighter wording on its order.
Perez said at a county update press conference last Friday that he expects some sort of golf course announcement in the county this week.
While most courses in the desert had closed, golf continued to be played on many private courses in the desert, with county officials saying it was difficult to enforce the rules on private courses where golfers could have their own golf cart and live on the golf course.
Since the county closed golf courses, various golf organizations in the area, including the Southern California Golf Association and the Southern California PGA, have lobbied the county and other closed areas to reopen the game. , these organizations want gaming to be considered a recreational activity such as walking or hiking, both of which are permitted under the home stay order.
The towns of the Coachella valley have also been involved in discussions with the courts and with the county since the closure. Palm Springs and La Quinta have each issued separate orders to close golf courses in their cities. Most city-owned golf courses closed immediately after county ordinances.
“I cannot speak on behalf of my fellow council members, but if the county supervisors believe (the opening of the courts) is appropriate, I support their decision,” said Iris Smotrich, mayor of Indian Wells, who has two courses at the Indian Wells Golf Recours.
At La Quinta, which issued its own executive order to close separate courses from the county, Mayor Linda Evans said the city was ready for golf.
“We fundamentally believe that the process must begin for the city of La Quinta so that we can recruit and hire people. This combination is in golf, so we could see the opening of the golf course, “said Evans.
Evans recognizes that golf is often a retirement sport and that many of the people who play it are from the vulnerable demographic of those 60 and over. But as the valley slides into summer, traditionally the slowest time of the year for the economy, a slow reopening of the golf course may be the best way for the city and its people to return to normal.
“Golf is something that can help the health and well-being of our residents,” said Evans.
Evans said the city council is ready to revise this order in accordance with the county’s amended ordinance.
To add to the frustration of golfers, the game could be played in other states and even other counties in California with restrictions. Over the weekend, Ventura County has reopened its golf courses, and some courses in Orange County have also reopened.
In addition, Wisconsin and Minnesota have announced the reopening of golf courses in these states. In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo authorizes the practice of golf in private clubs.