Coronavirus in Portsmouth: Easing of lockdown restrictions sees 91-year-old golfer return to Copnor course

THOUSANDS of people are set to enjoy new-found freedoms as restrictions ease in the first step along the roadmap out of lockdown.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 7:00 am

But none more so than pensioner Ron Trevaskis, 91, who is taking to Great Salterns golf course to be one of the first players to play 18 holes as courses reopen.

It is the first time in three months that groups of six – or two households – can meet outdoors, with tennis courts and grassroots football welcoming back players.

The chance to be surrounded by friends enjoying their favourite pastime together makes a welcome change for Ron and his fellow golfers.

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Southsea Golf Club member Ron Trevaskis (91) from Portsmouth, is looking forward to getting back to playing golf as lockdown restrictions are eased. Picture: Sarah Standing (260321-5732)

The former roofer, from Milton, said: ‘After the long lockdown, I think it’s great to be able to get out again, get some fresh air, and play with my friends – and have a bit of competition.

‘I have been out very, very little. I’ve been indoors most of the time. But you have to cope with it. You’ve got no choice.’

Given his age, Ron has now had both jabs of a Covid-19 vaccine – and he can’t praise the NHS staff highly enough.

He said: ‘I think they are marvellous, they have been doing a wonderful job – a one per cent pay rise is not enough. They have earned more than that.

‘And the government has done extremely well. It has been a very difficult time.’

The sense of community enjoyed at the golf club has been sorely missed, according to Ron, who praised the staff at Southsea Golf Club and Portsmouth Golf Centre.

The club’s PGA professional, Terry Healy, said the return of golfers follows a ‘horrendous’ 12 months marked with uncertainty and the deaths of several longstanding members.

Terry said: ‘We have lost around half a dozen members to Covid-19 over the last year. And a staff member lost his father to Covid.

‘It really brings it home – it’s been horrendous.’

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Lifting restrictions could see a surge in cases again, said Helen Atkinson, Portsmouth City Council's director of public health.

She said: ‘It's important to remember that when we meet with more people, there are more opportunities for the virus to spread.

‘As restrictions lift, we could see a surge in cases - while we hope this won't lead to further restrictions, not everyone has been vaccinated so people can still become very ill and, in the worst cases, die from this disease.’

As of last Friday, there were 86 Covid-19 patients in Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

Given the risk the virus poses, golf pro Terry believes the government had ‘got it right’ to close courses – but believes the sport is well suited to life in the pandemic.

He said: ‘There’s lots of fresh air and space for social distancing.

‘And it is such a sociable sport. It means a huge amount for members to meet up again.

‘I am so pleased to have Ron and all his friends and members back.’

Now, Ron is hoping his game hasn’t deteriorated too badly during his time away from the course: ‘After not playing for four months, you do think to yourself – what’s that first shot going to be like?’

By April 12 non-essential shops, gyms and spas should reopen, with up to 15 people allowed at weddings.

Stage three, from May 17, should see groups of up to 30 allowed to mix outdoors, and the rule of six applying indoors. Museums, theatres, cinemas and play areas will open, along with hotels, pubs and restaurants opening to indoor customers.

All legal limits on social mixing should be lifted from June 21, with no limits at funerals, weddings or other major life events. Nightclubs can reopen.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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