Golf course opens in defiance of Ontario lockdown restrictions
A golf course in Southern Ontario is the latest business to brazenly defy government orders by opening up to the public amid a provincewide shutdown — and apparently it's been quite busy.
The Bridges at Tillsonburg, located 50 km southeast of London, Ontario, reportedly opened its online bookings portal last week for golfers to reserve tee-times.
It wasn't long before the course was fully booked up for the weekend, despite stay-at-home orders that explicitly forbid golf courses from operating due to the threat of COVID-19.
I just spoke to a staffer at The Bridges at Tillsonburg, the course that is defying the Ontario order to close. Golfers are out on the course, and aside from a news truck out front, there is nothing unusual happening. Tee sheet is sold out today and tomorrow.— Bob Weeks (@BobWeeksTSN) April 24, 2021
Under the provincial government's latest version of lockdown, now in effect until at least May 20, all outdoor sports facilities including tennis courts, basketball courts, skate parks and, of course, golf courses are closed.
Then again, restaurants and gyms have been closed on and off for more than a year, which hasn't deterred some business owners from operating anyway. But unlike the outwardly defiant Adamson BBQ in Etobicoke, or HUF gym in Mississauga, the Tilsonburg golf course didn't reopen to send a message.
Rather, it reopened so that people could golf (with a host of COVID-19 health and safety measures in place, mind you).
The first golfers went off at 9:05 at the bridges. OPP standing by observing. pic.twitter.com/YnUTxAXbZp— BrentLaleCTV (@BrentLaleCTV) April 24, 2021
"We're not trying to make a political statement. We're just doing what we think is right," said co-owner Murray McLaughlin to the Woodstock Sentinel-Review on Friday. "No comment is my official comment."
Reporters who attended the course over the weekend wrote that the course seemed bustling, but protected by security guards who would only allow access to those with pre-booked tee times.
According to the Toronto Star, 115 golfers arrived in total to play the 18-hole course on Saturday. Some OPP cruisers were seen chilling outside the business, but nobody was charged or arrested for golfing there over the weekend.
West Region OPP officers reportedly told CTV London that they were "observing" the situation. When asked if any fines were doled out, the OPP told CTV that "it's under investigation."
UPDATE: Spokesperson for the OPP in the area have provided me with the following statement re: The Bridges at Tillsonburg. pic.twitter.com/mgpvMfQ2um— Adam Stanley (@adam_stanley) April 25, 2021
Both Golf Ontario and Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar expressed public disappointment in The Bridges of Tillsonburg for opening in defiance of provincial lockdown orders, but many fans of golf applauded the move on social media.
"On behalf of The Bridges At Tillsonburg we would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support," wrote the golf course's management on Facebook late Saturday, eliciting hundreds of positive comments.
"It's been wonderful to witness our community and those who support our community come together and safely play the sport we all love so much," the post said. "Our Tee Sheet is currently at full capacity for the remainder of the weekend, please give us a call or book online for future bookings."
Tee times, of which there are up to 48 available per day, are currently booked solid at The Bridges until Thursday, when three are available. Next weekend is already sold out.
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