Golf courses will be allowed to remain open in Tier 4 areas, with play limited to groups of two.
From Sunday morning, gyms, hairdressers and non-essential shops in the new severe level of restrictions will be ordered to close their doors just days before Christmas.
The rules will apply in all current Tier 3 areas in the south east that will be moved to Tier 4 from Sunday, covering Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.
They will also apply in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the south east and east of England (Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
"Without action the evidence suggests that infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives,” Mr Johnson said.
Watch: Are you in Tier 4? Find out the rules in your area with our postcode checker
Will golf courses close in Tier 4?
Both courses and driving ranges will be allowed to remain open in Tier 4 areas in England, with the government confirming that “outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges, riding centres and playgrounds” will not be closed.
During his announcement, Mr Johnson described as the new measures “similar to those in November” during the second national lockdown period. However, the allowance for courses to stay open represents a change in thinking, and follows considerable work and research from golf authorities to prove the sport is not contributing to the spread of coronavirus.
Individuals will be allowed to meet one other person in a public space outdoors in Tier 4 areas, meaning two-balls will be allowed at golf courses and driving rangers will remain open.
The government’s Tier 4 guidance states: “Indoor gyms and sports facilities will close. Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges, riding centres and playgrounds can remain open for individual exercise, and for people to use with others within your household, support bubble, or with one person from another household. Organised outdoor sport for under 18s and disabled people will be allowed.”
A statement issued by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf (APPGG) read: “The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf is happy to confirm that golf courses will be able to remain open when the new Tier 4 restrictions become effective in parts of England from 6am GMT on Sunday 20 December.
“In Tier 4 areas, golf courses can remain open for individuals playing with members of their own household or support bubble, or with one person from another household.
“As usual, social distancing is to be observed and all necessary steps are to be taken to ensure a Covid-19 secure environment.
Watch: Key points from today’s Covid-19 press briefing
“Under Tier 4 restrictions, non-essential retail – including Pro Shops and golf retailers – must close. Click and Collect will, however, be permitted.
“Outdoor coaching will be allowed on an individual basis or for multiple members of the same household or support bubble. Indoor coaching will be not be permitted.
“There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes, and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing.
“Custom fitting can take place outside on a one-to-one basis but is not permitted indoors.
“Some golf ranges can be classified as indoor settings, but it would be for each facility to read and interpret the guidelines against their own venue – it is suggested that if confirmation is required they contact their local authority who will be best placed to advise.
“Unless it’s essential for work or other reasons, Tier 4 areas must not be left by occupants or entered by anybody from a Tier 1, 2 or 3 area. Full details of Tier 4 guidance can be found on the government’s website.”
Can I still play golf in Tier 3?
If you live in a Tier 4 area, you cannot travel outside to a Tier 3 area and will be required to stay at home by law. That means you cannot travel to a golf course that remains open in Tier 3.
Exemptions will be in place for those in Tier 4 to allow people to travel for healthcare, education or childcare.
The government will advise people not to enter Tier 4 areas. Earlier advice for entering tier 3 areas from lower areas had permitted travel for “necessary reasons”.
Golf courses in tiers 1, 2 and 3 will be eligible to remain open for players who do not live in Tier 4.
What about golf in Wales?
Wales Golf have confirmed that with the entire country being placed in a Tier 4 lockdown from Sunday, all golf courses will be forced to shut by the end of Saturday 19 October.
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