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Golfing, some other outdoor activities to be allowed in Pennsylvania starting Friday, May 1

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Alex Matarrita of York tees off on the 10th hole while enjoying a spring day at Heritage Hills Golf Club on Wednesday, March 18. Shortly thereafter, Pennsylvania golf courses were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will be reopened on Friday, May 1.
John A. Pavoncello photo
  • Golf and some other outdoor activities will be allowed starting Friday, May 1.
  • Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must be followed.
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf lifted the restrictions on Monday.

Golfers and others who enjoy outdoor activities received some long-awaited news from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday.

Wolf announced that his administration is lifting some restrictions on businesses related to certain outdoor activities.

Starting Friday, May 1, golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds may reopen statewide. Those activities had been halted in late March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many golfers had expressed unhappiness with the Wolf administration that their favorite activity was not permitted, while some fishing and hunting were being allowed. 

The newly reopened activities, however, will be required to follow updated life-sustaining business guidance from the administration, including specifics for how these outdoor recreational industries can resume while also prioritizing public health and safety. Golfers, for instance, will be limited to one person per cart, instead of two.

HEISER: With fishing precedent set, Pa. golfers can now legitimately ask: 'What about us?'

Campgrounds in state parks will remain closed through Thursday, May 14.

A statement from the governor said the relaxation of restrictions was done to ensure that Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation as a way to maintain positive physical and mental health, while also keeping with the state's stay-at-home orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Pennsylvanians have remained resilient throughout this COVID-19 crisis, and as we successfully continue to flatten the curve to protect our physical health, it is critical that we also focus on our physical and mental health during these extraordinary times. As the weather warms and daylight lengthens, enjoying time outdoors is an important way to manage stress,” Wolf said in a statement. “As we start to take measured, limited steps to reopen our commonwealth, reopening these industries will help to rebuild our economy and strengthen our mental health.”

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted because of worry and stress over COVID-19, with the burden likely to continue even as the pandemic’s threat diminishes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities. These guidelines must be followed statewide by businesses and when engaging in outdoor activity while the state disaster declaration remains in effect. They are:

Golfers enjoy a spring day on the links at Heritage Hills Golf Club on Wednesday, March 18. A few days later, golf was prohibited in Pennsylvania because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Golf courses in the state will be allowed to reopen on Friday, May 1. John A. Pavoncello photo

Stay close to home: Pennsylvanians are encouraged to enjoy permitted outdoor recreational activities within their community and avoid crowding popular destinations.

Practice social distancing: Maintain the recommended minimum 6 feet apart from fellow recreationists. Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to wear a mask or protective garment that covers the nose and mouth any time they go outside. If a parking lot at a park is full or there are too many people on the same trail, find an alternate place to recreate. Cross the street to avoid running directly past another runner or wait longer at a golf hole for a fellow golfer to move forward.

Minimize risk to others: Individuals should only go out if they feel healthy and have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs and handrails. 

Have a plan: Create a safety plan before heading outdoors. Explain to children the need to keep their distance from others, even if they happen to see a friend while outside. Discuss with partners, social distancing while on the golf course. Think through how to avoid other runners when waiting to safely cross a street at the same time.

— Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.