The greens at Carnarvon Family Golf remain empty of patrons, even with sunny weather and the May long weekend approaching.
The Kent family is dutifully maintaining the grass, with nobody around to enjoy the driving range, three-par course, or miniputt. His family is left to wait for the end of the stay-at-home order, set for June 2, before it can reopen to the public.
It is a contrast to last year when golf courses were able to open in May. Owner Pennie Murray said the province keeping courses closed due to the pandemic does not make sense, and the loss of the May long weekend will sting.
“Many of my friends take on three and four jobs in the summer just to be able to get through the winter, and not having the long weekend will definitely hurt,” Murray said. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me that you can’t get on a golf cart. You’ve got nothing but wilderness, and it’s going to hurt the economy.”
The stay-at-home order was scheduled to expire May 20, but the province extended it an additional two weeks past the May long weekend due to COVID-19 trends.
Golf courses across Ontario have clamoured for reopening since the province closed them April 17, along with other outdoor recreation spaces. Premier Doug Ford defended the decision May 13, citing concerns over carpooling and gatherings.
Murray said that does not make sense, and it is not something she has witnessed.
“It’s ridiculous,” Murray said. “Nobody is carpooling, and people aren’t getting together.”
The Ontario Medical Association said in a May 12 press release that although the province should extend the lockdown, outdoor recreational spaces should reopen, with rules to prevent gathering.
Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking agreed with that.
“We know outside activity is safer than indoor activity and the risk of transmission when you’re outside, and still socially distancing, and using masks, is much lower,” she said. “I would like to see more outdoor activities available.”
Other businesses are also feeling the impact of the lockdown and its two-week extension. But Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce executive director Amanda Conn said the community is resilient. “
A lot of businesses are not having the easiest time right now. We’re all very, very aware of that,” Conn said, adding she is impressed by businesses commitment to COVID-19 safety. “No one likes to hear about another lockdown, but we do want to keep the community safe.”
Murray said she hopes she can reopen as quickly as possible.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer,” she said. “[Not being able to open], that’ll hurt.”