Victorian man Norman Ford at the Airbnb rental he's staying in at Ocean Shores, July 23, 2020.
Victorian man Norman Ford at the Airbnb rental he's staying in at Ocean Shores, July 23, 2020.

Golf club forced to take ‘firm approach’ to visiting players

SOME travellers from Victoria who left before their suburbs went into lockdown have now settled in to Northern Rivers holidays, as COVID-19 cases increase in their state and the appeal of returning home grows more non-existent.

Victorian man Norm Ford says he arrived on the North Coast with his wife on July 3.

When they left their home suburb of Whittlesea, it wasn’t considered a hotspot.

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Mr Ford said he suffers from the “winter blues” and they tend to leave Melbourne for warmer climes during the coldest part of the year.

A keen golfer, he’d found an Airbnb which backs onto the greens of Ocean Shores Country Club.

But after playing there twice and spending hundreds of dollars at the pro shop, he was told they couldn’t allow him to attend the facility any further due to COVID-19 concerns at his home postcode.

“I said I understand that since we’ve been up here they’ve closed the borders,” Mr Ford said.

“I’ve been up here for a while.”

Mr Ford, who said he’d experienced no symptoms, has urged the club to reconsider.

Ocean Shores Country Club general manager Ian Wills said he understood Mr Ford’s concerns but they were “guided by NSW Health” and must take “the firmest approach” possible.

“Obviously the club’s primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of our members and the broader community,” Mr Wills said.

With many members falling into an older demographic and therefore at higher risk, he said it was vital to balance the interests of visitors with those of the local community.

“I understand Norm has said he’d been in the region for three odd weeks … and I have no reason to doubt that,” Mr Wills said.

“I feel great sympathy for all people especially Victorians who are such a big part of our local economy during winter … but these aren’t normal times.”

The club has said if Norm provides evidence he’s remained out of Victoria in recent weeks and returns a negative COVID-19 test, he could return.

“I can only think that would be the fairest way around this,” Mr Wills said.