Coronavirus: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern insists golf greenkeeper exemption under review

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has moved to allay growing concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on NZ golf courses.

Greenkeepers have been hamstrung by lockdown rules that have seen courses around the country rapidly deteriorating, due to the lack of regular maintenance.

An 'essential service' exemption has been filed with the Government, but delays have clubs fearing the worst for the future of their courses.

At her Thursday COVID-19 briefing, Ardern acknowledged those concerns and insisted the issue was being weighed against potential health and safety repercussions. 

"The reason that has taken so much time is that everything needs to be viewed through a public health lens," she said.

"I have this raised with me and officials are working on this issue as we speak."

Ardern added that, in some cases, exemption had been granted for maintenance initiated on a council level.

"What we have done in some areas where it is health and safety, in the sense that councils have said they want to keep maintenance, because rodents can become an issue.

"In those areas, where it's just a single person, no contact with others, there has been the ability for that to be managed, because our principles have always been to maintain health and safety." 

"At the same time, when it comes to those recreational areas, the public health lens needs to be our starting point and that's what's being worked through now."

NZ Greenkeepers president Steve Hodson said the financial implications alone of the course closures had already been keenly felt

"Greens are our babies," Hodson told Newshub. "If we lose our greens, we lose our golf course and we've lost our revenue, then we've lost jobs."

"[It's] a massive social cost as well as financial cost to the clubs."