Happy golfers, anxious commuters as England eases lockdown

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A golfer hits a shot after Sunningdale Golf Club reopened this morning as part of the British government relaxing the coronavirus lockdown measures, in Sunningdale, England, Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Tennis courts and golf courses in England can reopen from Wednesday, the sports venues were ordered to be closed in March when Britain imposed a national lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON – The sound of crisply struck golf balls could be heard in England for the first time in nearly two months as courses reopened Wednesday, part of a modest easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

But delight at the resumption of some recreation was mixed with anxiety among commuters and transit staff as people began to return to workplaces.

After seven weeks of lockdown, people in England were allowed to exercise more than once a day and with one person from outside their household, provided they remained 2 meters (around 6.5 feet) apart. Other sporting activities, such as tennis, fishing, boating and lake swimming, also resumed.

David Baillie, the pro at Dulwich & Sydenham Hill Golf Club in southeast London, said 170 members booked tee-off times to play in pairs on Wednesday and that all slots are taken through Tuesday.

“It's gone swimmingly well,” he said.

Stores selling gardening supplies reported busy trade as they reopened, and potential home buyers were told they could once again visit properties. And, importantly in the context of getting the ailing British economy back on its feet, people who can't work from home, such as those in construction and manufacturing, were being encouraged by the government to return to work if they can do so safely.

Some construction sites have resumed work, and automaker Ford announced plans to restart production at two factories in the U.K.

The easing of restrictions applies only in England. The semi-autonomous governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are going more slowly and sticking with the “Stay Home” message, partly because the epidemic is at different stages in different parts of the country,