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Carmel mayor reopens golf courses, details strict guidelines

UPDATE: Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard announced Friday the city was reopening golf courses after a one-day closure.

“Fresh air and recreation are even more important to us at this time of social distancing, but viewing social media posts where our social distancing restrictions were clearly being violated made it clear yesterday that action must be taken. I spent several hours discussing new guidelines and recommendations that would better ensure a healthier environment for play. I am pleased that we were able to find a way to allow golf courses to open with several adjustments. If we see further violations, we will revisit the closings again,” said Mayor Brainard in a news release to News 8.

Courses that remain open are ordered to follow the protocols listed below:

  • Golf Shop, Clubhouse and all restrooms must be closed
  • Take out service only with no entry into clubhouse by members
  • Walking only;  No riding carts or push carts unless they are privately owned
  • No rakes in bunkers
  • Driving range closed
  • On course restrooms closed
  • No tee markers on golf course
  • No water coolers
  • No flagsticks
  • Staff cannot assist with handling bags/clubs
  • Holes must be filled so players don’t reach into hole for ball

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The city’s mayor Thursday ordered all golf courses to close although Gov. Eric Holcomb had made an exception in his “stay at home” order to keep them open.

A news release from Carmel said that “golfers are touching flags, using carts, retrieving balls from cups – which poses a problem because the COVID-19 virus can live on these kinds of surfaces for up to three days.”

Mayor Jim Brainard said in the release, “The governor made an exception for golf courses, but the number of COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County is far higher than the state average, so I issued this order today under the authority I have to limit non-essential travel. In other words, travel to golf courses, except for walking, is prohibited. Maintenance of golf courses is still allowed.”

The city is working with the golf course managers on appropriate protocols, and the mayor’s order could be relaxed if proper protocols are instituted.

Under the governor’s order, playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and other similar areas of outdoor interaction have been closed.

Earlier in the day, the Carmel mayor closed Midtown Plaza and a portion of the Monon Greenway between Gradle Drive and Main Street. Other parks and trails in the city remain open.

Brainard said in the release, “We know that the warm weather is a temptation for our residents to get out and gather in large groups, as we saw yesterday along the Monon Greenway. We must resist this activity, stop sharing sports equipment such as tennis balls and basketballs and keep our distance from one another in order to stop this deadly virus from spreading.”

Carmel also has requested that Zagster, the vendor who operates the city bike share, cease operations due to the inability to clean the bicycles and stations after every use.

Indiana is under a “stay at home” order until 11:59 p.m. April 6.

Indy Parks, in response to an inquiry from News 8, said it’s following the guidelines set forth by the state, and golf course operators have been informed of these guidelines, which include:

  • Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to visiting golf courses and other public spaces, while at the golf course, and during the operation of golf courses. 
  • Prevent customers from gathering in the clubhouse or limit all access to the clubhouse  Customers will be instructed to purchase their items and then exit outside. 
  • Observe the CDC’s recommended social distancing of 6 feet from other persons at all times.
  • Golf carts likely should not be shared, if used at all. Recommend that golf players walk the course.
  • Encourage customers to avoid paying with cash and make payments over the phone or online.  

“Our team will continue to work with golf operators to evaluate their courses and practices during this time,” an Indy Parks spokeswoman said by email.

Indiana coronavirus timeline

  • March 6: Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) confirms the first case in Indiana. Officials say the Marion County resident had recently traveled to Boston to attend a BioGen conference as a contractor.
  • March 8: ISDH confirms a second case. An adult in Hendricks County who had also traveled to the BioGen conference was placed in isolation. Noblesville Schools announces that a parent and that parent’s children will be self-quarantining after attending an out-of-state event where someone else tested positive.
  • March 9: ISDH’s total of positive cases rises to 4. Avon Community School Corp. had announced on March 8 that a student tested positive; that case, along with another in Noble County, was confirmed by state health officials at a news conference.
  • March 10: ISDH’s total of positive cases rises to 6 as the state launches an online tracker. Purdue and Indiana universities suspend classes for two weeks beyond their spring breaks. Ball State University basketball fans learn the Mid-American Conference tourney will have no fans in the stands. Three businesses operating nursing homes in Indiana announce they will no longer allow visitors.
  • March 11: ISDH confirms four more positive cases in Indiana. The University of Indianapolis announces it will extend its ongoing spring break through March 22. The Indianapolis-based NCAA announces the men’s and women’s Final Four basketball tournaments will be conducted with essential staff and limited family attendance. The Big Ten announces all sports events, including the men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, will have no fans starting March 12. Ball State University announces classes are suspended for the rest of the spring semester. NBA suspends all games, including the Indiana Pacers, until further notice. Butler University extends its spring break, after which it will go to virtual classes.
  • March 12: ISDH’s total of positive cases rises 12. Taylor University cancels international and domestic spring break trips for students and faculty sponsors. Indianapolis’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled. Gov. Eric Holcomb announces new protections that led to extended public school closings and the cancellation of large events across the state. The league including the Indy Fuel hockey team suspends its season. Indy Eleven says it will reschedule four matches, including its April 4 home opener. The NCAA cancels the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The Big Ten suspends all sporting events through the winter and spring seasons.
  • March 13: Gov. Holcomb announces additional actions — they included eliminating Medicaid co-pays for COVID-19 testing and lifting regulations limiting the number of work hours per day for drivers of commercial vehicles — to help stop the coronavirus. Wayzata Home Products, a Connersville cabinet maker, shut down and lays off its entire workforce due to market uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. The Indiana High School Athletic Association postpones the boys basketball tournament. Franklin College says it will have no in-person classes March 16 and 17, start online classes March 18 through at least April 5 and empty residence halls of students by 5 p.m. March 15. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis says it will be closed March 14-28. The Indianapolis Public Library joins other libraries across Indiana and says it will close all facilities until further notice beginning at 5 p.m. March 14.
  • March 14: ISDH’s total number of positive cases rises to 15. The Indiana Gaming Commission says all licensed gaming and racing operations will close 14 days starting March 16.
  • March 15: ISDH’s total number of positive cases rises to 19, with 121 tested. St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis announces all elective, non-urgent surgeries are canceled as of Tuesday.
  • March 16: Gov. Eric Holcomb announces the first Hoosier death. ISDH’s total number of positive cases rises to 24. Holcomb closes bars, restaurants and nightlubs to in-person patrons, while carryout and delivery services will still be allowed.
  • March 17: ISDH announces the second Hoosier death. Indiana’s Catholic bishops announce the cancellation of Sunday and weekday public masses. Gov. Holcomb activates the National Guard to assist as needed with the virus response. Purdue, Butler and Indiana State universities cancel May commencement ceremonies.
  • March 18: ISDH’s total number of positive cases rises to 39. Eli Lilly and Co. says it will use its labs to speed up testing in Indiana for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The 500 Festival announces suspends all planned, in-person events scheduled through May 9. Simon Property Group closes all malls and retail properties until March 29.
  • March 19: ISDH’s total number of positive cases rises to 56. Gov. Holcomb extends Indiana’s state of emergency into May. Holcomb says all K-12 public schools will be closed until May 1 and nonpublic schools also are to close. Standardized testing was canceled. The state’s income-tax and corporate-tax payment deadline was extended to July 15. Holcomb says the state will waive job search requirements for people applying for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament was canceled. The Marion County Emergency Operations Center upgrades to Level 1 status.
  • March 20: ISDH reports the third Hoosier death and 23 new cases for a total of 79. Gov. Holcomb moves the state’s primary election to June 2. Indiana University says it is postponing May commencement ceremonies on all campuses. Indiana University Health says it can do limited virus testing.
  • March 21: ISDH reports the fourth Hoosier death, and 47 new cases positive for a total of 126. A total of 833 people have been tested for the virus. Indiana National Guard details how it’s working with the Department of Transportation on distribution of medical supplies to hospitals.
  • March 22: Indiana’s death toll rises to 7. ISDH reports 75 more positive cases.
  • March 23: ISDH reports 259 cases of COVID-19, up from 201 a day earlier. Gov. Holcomb orders Hoosiers deemed nonessential to “stay at home” from March 24-April 7. Eli Lilly & Co. begins drive-thru testing for the coronavirus for health care workers with a doctor’s order. Ball State University cancels the May commencement.
  • March 24: Indiana’s death toll rises to 13. Fred Payne of Indiana Workforce Development says any Hoosiers out of work, including temporary layoffs, are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.
  • March 25: Indiana’s death toll rises 17. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Indianapolis 500 is moved to Aug. 23. IndyGo suspends fares and changes its ride schedules.
  • March 27: Indiana’s death toll rises to 25. Marion County adds 192 new positive COVID-19 cases, the most of any county in the state for the day, for a total of 484. Indiana has 981 confirmed cases.
  • March 28: Indiana’s death toll rises to 31. Marion County adds 100 new cases, the most of any county in the state, for a total of 584. Indiana has 1,232 confirmed cases.
  • March 29: Indiana’s death toll rises to 32. Marion County adds 92 new positive cases, the most of any county in the state, for a total 676. Indiana has 1,514 confirmed cases. President Donald Trump announces in a press conference that the national social distancing recommendation will be extended by 30 days, to end April 30.
  • March 30: Indiana’s death toll rises to 35. Marion County had the most new cases in the state with 135, for a total of 804. Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kris Box predicted the arrival of the surge in cases and deaths could come in mid-April to late April, but could be as late as mid-May, “but we don’t know.”
  • March 31: Indiana’s death toll rises to 49. Gov. Holcomb extends the limits of bars and restaurants to offer only “to go” and “carry out” through April 6. Health commissioner Box, asked about when Indiana will be in a surge of COVID-19 cases, says she thinks the surge is starting.
  • April 1: Indiana’s death toll rises to 65. Officials extend Marion County’s “stay at home” order through May 1. Marion County health officials say they will start COVID-19 testing services for frontline employees.The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis says it will remain closed until further notice. Gov. Holcomb announces the #InThisTogether campaign.
  • April 2: Indiana’s death toll rises to 78. The state announces K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. The Indiana High School Athletic Association cancels spring sports seasons.
  • April 3: Indiana’s death toll rises to 102. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through May 3. Indiana officials say the state has received a federal Major Disaster Declaration for all 92 counties. The Indiana National Guard says it, the Army Corps of Engineers and state health officials will begin on Saturday to assess sites for alternate health care facilities.

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