Midlothian golfer stopped from playing at both his clubs due to new Covid rules

A Midlothian-based golfer has hit out at the Scottish Government’s latest Covid-19 restrictions after finding himself blocked from playing in two neighbouring local authority areas.

Scott Walker, a former Lothians Champion of Champions winner, is a member of both West Linton and Gullane but can't play at either at the moment due to Covid-19 restrictions
Scott Walker, a former Lothians Champion of Champions winner, is a member of both West Linton and Gullane but can't play at either at the moment due to Covid-19 restrictions

Scott Walker, who lives in Penicuik, is a member and former club champion of both West Linton and Gullane, but he is unable to play at either due to them being in the Borders and East Lothian respectively.

The former Lothians Champion of Champions winner has found himself in a golfing no man’s land after a late decision by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to keep Midlothian as a Level 3 area rather than allowing it to join East Lothian in moving to Level 2, which the Borders already had been.

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On the back of that, some East Lothian clubs, including Gullane, immediately contacted Midlothian members to inform them that they would be joining Edinburgh members in being prevented from booking tee times.

Golfers across Scotland are being encouraged to keep travel to a minimum, but Walker believes the new restrictions are unnecessary.

“As a keen golfer, I am a member of two golf clubs – West Linton and Gullane – and they are 10 minutes and 30 minutes away from my home by car respectively,” he said.

“At the moment, based on the nonsensical guidance provided and following the request of both clubs, I cannot play golf at either of these as one sits in the edge of the Borders and the other in East Lothian

“I’ve been working from home for several months and I am doing nothing else which puts me at any real risk. I always travel in my own vehicle and always in isolation.

“I have seen zero evidence of any Covid-related issues caused by people playing golf. Since lockdown was eased, I have been playing with my group of friends, and for the team at Gullane for a few months again now, with no issues whatsoever.

“All of a sudden, due to some crazy new rules, I am no longer able to do the one thing that gets me out the house to provide me with the basic physical and mental release I need.

“For me, the Scottish Government is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and beginning to really infringe on people’s basic human rights and personal freedoms.”

Government regulations prohibit travel without a reasonable excuse into or out of a Level 3 or 4 local authority area. Exceptions include travelling to work and school and some exercise and sport are allowed, including golf, but it must take place five miles from the boundary of your local authority area.

Fines can be issued for unlawful travel.

But Walker said: “It’s just not right and feels completely disproportionate to the number of serious cases in the Lothians.

“The Scottish Government has got to trust people to be sensible and take necessary precautions, without the need for such draconian and unreasonable measures.

“People that choose to ignore the guidance available will still continue to do that regardless of any new rules.

“The Government needs to trust the sensible vast majority to behave in the right way, follow the basic safety guidelines, and start letting us get on with our lives again the best we can.”

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