Coronavirus

UPDATE: Southern Oaks Golf Course Operating Under Strict Rules in Addition to COVID-19 Restrictions

    Following a story we brought you here on News 15, after an approval from the Vermilion Parish Police Jury, Southern Oaks Country Club is allowed to operate under strict rules in addition to the COVID-19 restrictions in place. Some of those additional restrictions include limiting one rider per golf cart. In a statement the owner of the golf course, Rhett Hebert said,
“Like many of the other courses in the area, we want to offer an outlet for people in Vermilion Parish to get some fresh air. But, the health and safety of our members, guests, and staff is our top priority, along with those in the community. After reevaluating the measures we are taking at Southern Oaks Country Club, our team acknowledges that we must strengthen our efforts and become stricter on those that do not adhere to the guidelines set in place. This is uncharted territory for us, as well as other businesses throughout Acadiana. We sincerely apologize for any unnecessary fear caused. We truly love Vermilion Parish and will do our best to alleviate its residents’ concerns from this point further.”

     Some Vermilion Parish residents are concerned after seeing the Southern Oaks Golf Course in Abbeville is open, even with the governors orders for the closure of non-essential businesses. One Vermilion Parish woman tell News15 she’s disappointed in what she says is the lack of regard for others in the community.
“I mean it’s obvious that this golf course is nonessential and it was clear that they’re breaking the rules, people here are worried,” said Leah Richard.
      Leah Richard says she was shocked that the Southern Oaks Golf Course was open, especially since the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Louisiana.
Richard said, “If they think they’re only infecting themselves, they’re not. They still have to go into the community, they still have to go to grocery stores, I mean they don’t live in a bubble. That’s why this order was put in place.  So, it’s…it’s scary.”
       After stopping by and speaking the owner, who declined to go on camera, News 15 searched through their Facebook page. There they say that they are taking precautions such as: sanitizing golf carts after use, limiting the amount of people allowed in the club, and encouraging golfers to practice social distancing. However, as a business owner herself, Richard believes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Richard said, “This is going to continue to get out of control, we’re going to have to stay in quarantine even longer because those non-essential are not shutting down the way they are supposed to. So to me it’s just an unbelievable act of selfishness, for businesses to stay open and for the patrons to continue to go.”
    In a statement released to News 15, the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s office said:

The Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office has received complaints about the local golf course “ Southern Oaks” in Abbeville being open during the Governor’s proclamation under the COVID-19 pandemic. We have reached out to the owner of the golf course and he says that they have modified their operations to ensure compliance with the proclamation and guidelines to include:

1. Only serving food to go and have removed the tables and chairs inside the building making sure that no one can congregate and as a result must get their orders and exit.

2. Strictly adhering to the limit of 3 customers in the building at any given time.

3. Limiting golfers to groups of 10 playing while on the course and says that the course is large enough to accommodate several groups allowing them to all maintain their 6-foot social distance.

4. Workers complete a wipe down of golf carts after players turn them in.

At this time, Southern Oaks Golf Course’s decision to remain open is under review by the Sheriff’ Office as it relates to whether or not a golf course can be open with modified operations and be in compliance with the Governor’s proclamation and federal guidelines for businesses under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of these guidelines are vague, leaving compliance open for debate. We are also seeking more information from around the state in other jurisdictions whether or not “golf courses” with modified operations are allowed to remain open. Once this review is completed, we will determine the appropriate course of action and contact the owner.

We understand the hardships our local businesses and people are facing under this unprecedented emergency and although we fully support our local businesses within the Parish, we also have to make sure businesses are in compliance with the Governor’s proclamation and federal guidelines so that we can protect and keep the public safe during this emergency.

Until the review is complete, Richard hopes everyone can continue to do their part to keep the community safe.

Richard added, “It’s beautiful. I want to be able to enjoy it in a couple of months too. This is nothing personal against them,  I value every small business in Vermilion Parish. I value that golf course but I don’t feel like they value the people of Vermilion Parish at this point.”
News 15 will continue to follow this story and keep you updated as we learn more.