While NSW residents prepare for an easing of stay-at-home orders in the next few weeks, Zone 16 bowlers continue to be frustrated with no certainty over a timeline for a return to the green.
The NSW Government delivered some good news for some parts of the state who are now out of lockdown but bowlers in Zone 16 remain bound by tough restrictions with no easing in sight.
The Government has flagged that when the state records a double vaccination rate of 70 per cent - which is expected to be around the middle of October - then a large suite of businesses and leisure activities will re-open.
The 70 per cent double vaccine milestone will allow small numbers to gather for home visits plus give a green light for restaurants and most retail shops to re-open, along with gymnasiums, hairdressers and even cinemas to open their doors to patrons who have been double vaccinated.
The Government has deliberately changed its messaging in recent weeks to emphasise the significant rewards for those double-vaccinated as restrictions begin to be eased, rather than highlight the daily infection figure and hospital numbers, which remain incredibly high.
Most Zone 16 clubs shut their doors on June 26, while all clubs were forced to close as part of the state-wide lockdown in mid-August from which our bowling clubs remain under the stay-at-home orders.
And while the Government has pledged to reopen the economy in mid-October once the 70 per cent mark is achieved, the announcement last week had little comfort for community sport including bowls which will remain under the lockdown ban.
The recently merged Bowls NSW Ltd represents around 50,000 bowlers in NSW; many of whom will not be coming back to the green once the new freedoms are granted in mid-October.
The peak body could barely hide its disappointment for those staying in lockdown, issuing a statement to members and clubs.
''In accordance with the current Public Health Order, for those areas which are in lockdown, bowling clubs remain closed except for the sale of takeaway food and beverage,'' Bowls NSW Ltd said.
''Bowls NSW Ltd has made numerous representations to NSW Health and the Office of Sport seeking an exemption for bowling greens to be open on behalf of our members.
To date, these submissions have been denied, however we are continuing to pursue the matter.
''Once an updated Public Health Order has been released, further updates will be provided to members.''
Bowls NSW did note that those regional areas which came out of lockdown last Sunday (SEPT 11) are now able to open their greens for roll-ups, social bowls and internal club championships.
''All permitted play must be restricted to 20 people per green, up to a maximum of 50 people under the current Public Health Order,'' Bowls NSW said in an amended statement.
''District/Regional/Zone matches are not permitted to be played until further notice. Bowls NSW Ltd is still seeking further clarification for tournaments.'
''Bowls NSW Ltd is seeking further clarification on the resumption of organised bowls matches and will provide this information to members as soon as possible.''
The social media response to the Government's decision to keep community sport under lockdown even with a 70 per cent vaccination was pretty scathing.
But most bowlers are supportive of the lobbying attempts by Bowls NSW, even if there was no hiding the disappointment that greens will remain idle while you will soon be able to get a haircut or go to the gym or see a movie.