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Debunked: No, Ireland's golf courses did not reopen on Saturday

A letter claiming to be from Golf Union Ireland stated golf courses were set to reopen on 2 May.
May 7th 2020, 6:15 AM 23,470 16

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LAST WEEK, A letter purporting to be from the Golf Union of Ireland (GUI) which claimed that golf courses in Ireland were going to reopen from Saturday 2 May circulated on social media. 

The letter, dated Tuesday 28 April, informed members of golf clubs in Ireland that the GUI had been informed that golf courses were to reopen the day after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s address on Friday 1 May, in which he announced Ireland’s ‘road map’ for easing Covid-19 restrictions. 

The letter states: “We have been notified that as part of the easing of restrictions is that [sic] golf courses will be allowed to open to the general public from Saturday 2nd May. 

“They have issued guidelines which will be advertised from each club and will be relayed to its members re: social distancing on and around the golf course. 

It continues: “Club houses, restaurants and bars will remain closed. More information will be made available once announcement has been made.”

This is completely false. 

Firstly, as is clearly laid out in Ireland’s plan to ease restrictions between 5 May and 10 August in five distinct phases, golf courses are not permitted to reopen until 18 May, when phase one starts. 

The reopening of golf courses – along with tennis courts and football pitches – on 18 May  is subject to social distancing. A maximum of four people will be allowed play together at any one time. 

roadmap Ireland's road map for lifting Covid-19 restrictions. Source: Gov.ie

Secondly, a GUI spokesperson confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the letter in question is “a prank” and that it should be disregarded. 

A spokesperson said: ”The GUI and ILGU are aware of a prank letter circulating on social media and messaging services in relation to the return of golf. Please disregard this.”

Finally, it should be noted that the fake letter is signed by CEO of Golf Union Ireland Owen Lee and Golf-Co-ordinator Joe King. 

Whoever wrote this letter claiming golf courses would reopen 16 days before they are due to was, in fact, Only Joking. 

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 

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STOP, THINK AND CHECK

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere.

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate.

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie   

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Cónal Thomas

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