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Longmont will open its golf courses back up to the public Thursday, two weeks after a comment submitted by a resident urged the city to reconsider their closure.

A Wednesday news release from the city stated it had received approval from Boulder County Public health to reopen the courses during Colorado’s stay at home order, provided a set of strict procedures and physical distancing measures were put in place.

Under these new procedures, all tee times would be set up by calling the course’s clubhouse, with no walk-ins and no cash or punch cards allowed. Driving ranges and practice areas will remain closed, according to the release, with tee times scheduled in 15 minute intervals in order to aid physical distancing. The courses will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Golf club and cart rentals are suspended, and score cards won’t be handed out on site, though downloadable copies have been made available. Private carts aren’t allowed either, the release stated.

In addition to asking golfers to maintain six feet of distance, the city is also asking them to not touch the flag sticks, arrive 10 minutes before tee time, leave one space between cars in the parking lot, leave after a round is played and wear masks around the clubhouse and parking lot. League and tournament play is still suspended.

A statement from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the statewide stay-at-home order does allow golf courses to operate, though only with the permission of local health authorities and with physical distancing measures, such as not sharing golf carts or other equipment, in place.

“If there was a local public health authority that wanted to be more strict, that is totally fine, but the idea behind that is that they can’t be less strict than what the governor’s office is asking for,” the statement said.

The discussion surrounding Longmont reopening its city golf courses was set off by a comment from resident Tiffany Kasanicky, who wrote in a letter to City Council read during an April 7 meeting that golfing safely during the stay at home order is a possibility for the city.

“There are numerous examples in Colorado and other states how golf courses are operating during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kasanicky wrote. “For example, requiring golfers to pay online or on the phone, making the courses walking only, and spacing out tee times.”

According to Erica Illingworth, marketing director for the city’s golf program, city staff put up signs to aid physical distancing Wednesday, in addition to a new mechanism allowing golfers to putt without touching flags. The practice areas and driving ranges have also been taped off.

She also said the maximum number of people allowed per tee time is still four people, though tee times have been cut in half.

Illingworth noted while the courses were closed, a couple incidents of golfers and others using the courses were reported. She said opening them up while keeping these strict regulations in place is a better option that can allow people to use the facilities safely.

“Reopening the golf courses is a safer option than remaining closed,” Illingworth wrote in an email. “Moving forward, the courses will no longer be available to unapproved golfers or residents using the courses a parks — we will be able to better monitor usage and ensure patrons abide by the Boulder County Public Health guidance set forth as a condition of reopening.”

Illingworth also said maintenance staff has been working full time at the courses while they have been closed, cutting grass, fertilizing, aerating and preparing irrigation systems.

The rest of Longmont — and Colorado — is set to begin the slow process of opening back up as well, as the state’s stay-at-home order will expire Sunday. Gov. Jared Polis debuted what he termed the “safer at home” phase of the state’s coronavirus response during a press conference Monday.

During the phase, retail stores will be able to perform curbside sales and hope to open up fully by May, while offices are allowed to reopen at 50% capacity. Salons, tattoo shops, pet grooming shops, personal training and other personal service businesses will also be allowed to open back up.

Many of the same recommendations made by the governor over recent weeks, such as wearing a mask in public, will still be in place.

According to Rigo Leal, a Longmont spokesperson, though the state is easing restrictions on April 26, the city has yet to land on date for when its buildings will reopen. Discussions have been going on for the past couple of days, he said, and plans are still “up in the air,” with Sunday being a possibility for the city.

For more information on golf course regulations, visit bit.ly/2Vvt8mY.

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