The GUI and ILGU has received clarification from the Irish Government in relation to golf course maintenance during the current period of restriction.
This follows on from significant engagement by the Unions with the relevant government agencies since last Friday.
While everyone should stay at home until 12 April 2020, golf course maintenance may be considered to be an essential service which cannot be performed at home, and therefore can continue during this period.
All course staff must adhere to the HSE guidelines in relation to safety and physical (social) distancing. Each golf club will have to provide course staff with identification and documentation to prove they are essential employees. This will be required should staff be stopped by An Garda Siochána while travelling to or from work.
Golf clubs may, therefore, continue with essential maintenance only, and in addition to HSE guidelines, must also consider the working practices guidance below from the R&A and BIGGA in doing so.
The primary consideration must be the health and wellbeing of greenkeeping staff.
All golf facilities should implement stringent measures to ensure staff members are not at risk.
The amount of time that greenkeeping staff are at work should be kept to a minimum and be tailored to fit with the agreed essential maintenance programme.
Measures should include but are not limited to:
- Focus on hygiene and social distancing
- Ensure staff members work separately
- Allocate individual machinery to one worker only
- If multiple staff on site, then stagger working hours and break times
- Limit or prohibit use of communal areas
- Regularly disinfect any surface that is contacted e.g. door handles, fuel pumps, communal machinery
- Ensure there is a robust lone working policy
Further advice from the R&A and BIGGA is available here: https://www.bigga.org.uk/uploads/assets/4c64d95f-07b8-4839-aa59cee58cada202/ESSENTIAL-MAINTENANCEstatment1.pdf
The UK Government confirmed that golf course maintenance was an essential service last week and all clubs in Northern Ireland should refer to the guidance above also.