Can golf keep its social distancing amid anti-coronavirus rally efforts? – Orange County Register

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Hundreds of Orange County golfers swing their irons on courses that have remained open amid the coronavirus crisis.

Now county supervisors are debating whether golf courses should obey California’s March 19 stay-at-home order, which orders “non-essential” businesses to scale back operations.

  • Golfers enjoy a spring day on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach – one of many golf courses still open in Orange County when “non-essential businesses” close in due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Goulding, Contributing Photographer)

  • A golfer enjoys a spring day on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach – one of many golf courses still open in Orange County when “non-essential businesses” close in due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Goulding, Contributing Photographer)

  • Golfers enjoy a spring day on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach – one of many golf courses still open in Orange County when “non-essential businesses” close in due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Goulding, Contributing Photographer)

  • Golfers enjoy a spring day on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach – one of many golf courses still open in Orange County when “non-essential businesses” close in due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Michael Goulding, Contributing Photographer)

Lisa Bartlett, who represents southern Orange County, noted at this week’s board meeting that some golf courses in her district are still in use.

“I understand people want to exercise – they go crazy,” she said. “But we have a public health crisis that we need to lock down. There are so many points of contact on a golf course. … You have the toilets which must remain open.

However, board chair Michelle Steel has opposed a stricter approach to golf courses.

“We can’t really shut it all down,” she said. “I believe the residents of Orange County have their own responsibility to distance themselves from others. You know what? We also need a little breathing room.

Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order does not specify all non-essential businesses, which number in the thousands. Instead, he cites a few such as bars, sit-down restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues that have been ordered to close except for take-out service. Core businesses include pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and laundry services.

The ordinance is not a law but rather a guideline which gives local governments some latitude in enforcement. It also allows people to get outside for the fresh air, although recent crowds on local beaches and in some parks have led to more measures to deter gatherings.

Ross Caouette, a commander of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, told the Board of Supervisors at their meeting that his agency needed “clear direction” from the county before officers could cite golf courses for. noncompliance.

Bartlett expressed his disappointment that Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club, which is in his district, is one of several clubs in Orange County still offering golf and tennis this week. She expressed her concerns in a Zoom meeting with Newsom the day before and said “he was absolutely appalled.”

On Thursday, April 2, the Coto de Caza site was closed “pending further examination by the local health department,” said Meg Tollison, spokesperson for its Dallas-based owner ClubCorp.

On social media, neighbors are arguing over the wisdom of golf in the coronavirus era. Some have said that golf easily allows for social distancing. Others argue that with some beaches and parks prohibited, golf courses should be too.

Two weeks ago, the Old Ranch Country Club at Seal Beach, also owned by ClubCorp, alerted customers that a member had tested positive for coronavirus. As of Thursday April 2, the golf course remained open.

Management has many precautions in place to guard against the spread of germs, said Joan Jensen, a Seal Beach resident, who regularly golfs there.

“There is basically no contact with anyone, or with anyone else’s equipment,” she said. “Two people can’t ride in the same cart – not even my husband and I. It looks like a choo-choo train as people drive.”

Additionally, the club no longer provides towels, scorecards, pencils, T-shirts and other items that could be handled by more than one person, she said. The water fountains have been deactivated. The practice is closed. The holes are blocked so that the balls can be retrieved without reaching the interior.

“We have gone beyond the recommendations of the CDC and are actively enforcing social distancing,” spokeswoman Tollison said.

Even so, some neighbors argue that golf entities should take a break.

“You put employees at risk,” said Julie McConaghy, Seal Beach resident, health care administrator. “There is no way to sanitize every doorknob the golfer touches, every cart, the toilet.”

Suzanne Mayer of Cypress is worried about the expected increase in coronavirus cases, especially as her husband repairs medical devices in Hoag, St. Jude and other hospitals.

“It’s not a normal time,” Mayer said. “It only takes one to infect several. When people are not at home, it is not only their lives that they are putting at risk, but the lives of everyone else.

But Tollison maintains that golf courses provide safe havens during the health crisis. “We strongly believe,” she said, “that golf, played properly, is an important physical and emotional outlet.”


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