The city of Branson has now added outdoor golf courses and golf facilities as “essential business” in Branson.

An “essential business” is defined as being critical to the well-being of the residents and infrastructure of the city; therefore, they are allowed to continue operation during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is also consistent with measures in other communities around the region, my understanding is Springfield has allowed their golf courses to remain open as well,” said Emergency Management Director Ted Martin. “So everything we’re doing, we’re trying to follow the guidelines of the CDC, Taney County Health Department the best we can with reason and common sense. We know that this is an outdoor opportunity for people to get exercise, they can maintain social distancing, they can reduce opportunities to touch and spread COVID-19 around their community.”

Outdoor golf courses and golf facilities are required to comply with the following conditions:

–The clubhouse and any enclosed indoor public areas of the golf course or facility are to remain closed.

–If motorized golf carts are used, they are limited to one person per golf cart.

–After each round of golf, golf carts are required to be sanitized by golf course or facility staff pursuant to CDC guidelines for business and facilities. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/disinfecting-building-facility.html)

The city administrator and emergency management director, have been vested with the authority by the Branson Board of Aldermen to determine “essential business.”

According to Martin, it’s important to remember that golf courses provide outdoor activity and are not being used as a resource to bring in tourism.

“This is more of a local opportunity and not meant to be an attraction for people to come from other communities to golf here, necessarily,” said Martin. “It’s truly aimed at local residents to have this opportunity.”

When asked why free options for outdoor activity, like city trails and parks, were closed and not being offered, Martin said it was due to a lack of staff to retain clean, sanitary conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Right now, all of our city-operated trails remain closed, mainly because we have reduced our staffing; therefore, we do not have the staffing to clean, sanitize, monitor trail systems ... our pavilions that are designed for multiple people, our playgrounds, our public restrooms. Those facilities we have closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Martin. “We simply have not been able to assign staff to do that, compared to a commercial business, like a golf course.”

According to Martin, the city of Branson is committed to protecting its community and working to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Just remember, the underlying goal that we have here is to reduce exposure to our community and to reduce exposure to our employees that work in the community, and therefore, families,” said Martin.

“That is a very tough, tough line to work on, but we’re doing the best we can as we try to maintain businesses that need to provide services. Again, with that key phrase of reason and common sense, so we do not intentionally draw people into the community that may be a carrier or carry it back.”

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