COVID-19 Update: Urgent Golf Course Maintenance Now Underway

Greens Maintenance

After a backflip by the Government before Easter, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) have now released a list of principles and practices that are now allowed for maintenance of a golf course during the Level 4 lockdown period, and it can begin today.

Under the essential activities aspect of the lockdown, urgent maintenance of turf and care for plants on nurseries is permitted from Tuesday, April 14, as long as businesses follow guidelines, minimise the activities and only complete maintenance that is genuinely urgent.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson said on Thursday that clubs would need to wait until the MBIE produced guidelines as the safety of all New Zealanders was paramount during level four lockdown.

“I understand the implications if the maintenance does not occur regularly, including for community organisations, which is why we have moved quickly on these decisions,” Minister Robertson said.

“However I ask those wanting to undertake the maintenance to wait until the criteria has been published – we need to ensure there are clear guidelines for the health and safety of the community and turf management workers.”

Grant Robertson
Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson at the 2020 New Zealand Open (Photo:

The major principles behind the new rules specify that urgent maintenance of biological assets must be undertaken in a manner that:

  • minimises, or eliminates if possible, physical interactions among staff
  • ensures appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place
  • restricts activity to only what is essential during the Alert Level 4 period.

The practices that are permitted are below.

The following practice criteria provide guidance for those involved in the upkeep and maintenance of biological assets. Business should:

  • limit work to only that needed to avoid the degradation of key biological assets (this does not include ornamental assets, for example)
  • keep precise and up to date phone and address information for all maintenance workers until the end of the pandemic. This information is important for the process of contact tracing, should it be required to track down and prevent the further spread of COVID-19
    • limit, or eliminate if possible, physical interaction between staff, for example
    • minimising the number of maintenance staff working during Alert Level 4
    • operating split shifts, or introducing staggered start times and meal breaks
    • adhering to the physical distancing requirements to ensure at least 2m physical separation between staff.
  • provide hygiene basics of handwashing and sanitisers.
  • most maintenance workers should not need to use PPE (assuming they can maintain physical distancing from other people).
  • ensure appropriate cleaning of tools, machinery and staff facilities, with specific cleaning at the end of a shift.
  • ensure staff who are unwell or maybe contacts of someone with COVID19, stay home

The MBIE reminds all clubs that no commercial activities will be allowed and no golf can be played on the course during level 4 lockdown.

Activity that is not permitted:

  • activity that is not related to urgent maintenance of key assets (i.e. care of ornamental assets, building maintenance that does not relate to an immediate health and safety issue)
  • any commercial activity
  • gatherings of people that are not usually involved in day-to-day maintenance to assist with essential maintenance of grounds or facilities (i.e. clubs must not organise volunteer working bees)
  • turf maintenance is limited to major sports grounds as outlined above. Maintenance of school sports fields, recreational grounds not used for national events, fields used for casual recreational activity, sports club fields that do not host national events, or general use green spaces is not permitted (with the exception of hazard management, which is permitted under other Alert Level 4 rules and urgent maintenance of artificial turf).
  • maintenance of driving ranges and mini-golf facilities
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