As National Governing Body and on behalf of members and all divers and snorkellers, BSAC has been working with external bodies and the trade, to support our UK diving community in moving forwards safely and successfully.
As the easing of lockdown restrictions continues and the UK tries to find its way back to normal, many of us will be considering the opportunities as well as implications of getting back into the water.
Progress has been made as we carefully steer our sport towards the safe opening of diving activities around the UK. Depending on where you live, some members have started shore diving and some businesses are starting to re-open, including some inland dive sites and dive shops. But we are not there yet. On behalf of our members and all divers and snorkellers, BSAC has and continues to work, alongside other governing bodies and agencies and the scuba diving trade, to enable diving to open up even further, safely and as soon as possible.
Here’s what BSAC has been up to behind the scenes:
Creating and sharing safety guidelines for divers
BSAC formulated (and continues to develop) comprehensive guidelines for a safe return to diving for all divers to follow. This has been shared externally for the benefit of all divers, external agencies and fellow governing bodies.
As a conduit of diving and safety information, knowledge and experience from various sources as National Governing Body, BSAC was able to consider all aspects impacting on the resumption of the activity whilst contributing to the continued prevention of the spread of the virus.
BSAC will continue to work with and support various external agencies with our guidelines such as BDSG, ScotSAC, Sport Scotland and Sport NI to share our guidelines and to monitor the situation and share.
Supporting our dive charter boat industry
BSAC has been working closely with the diving and boating industry to address the issue of how and when dive charter boats can return to the water. Virtual meetings have taken place with many of the charter boat owners across Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man to discuss the full impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on this essential part of the UK diving scene.
BSAC CEO Mary Tetley has been lobbying with other governing bodies and relevant agencies, including the RYA, the Angling Trust and the Inland Canal and Rivers Trust as well as the marine industry to resolve an apparent conflict in current Government advice on boats and charter boats.
Following guidance issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) stating a maximum of six people were permitted to go out on a charter boat, DEFRA issued conflicting guidance on the 11 June, limiting the number of people permitted to use recreational boats to the same household. We have since actively challenged this position with DCMS, DEFRA, BDSG, the Secretary of State and the Sports Minister, along with local MPs. We are currently awaiting imminent further guidance from DEFRA, expected this week.
Talking with inland dive sites
BSAC has been linking in with the inland dive sites to help and support wherever possible their safe, restricted opening, in line with the latest Government advice.
With several of England’s inland dive centres already opening their doors, with restrictions and more set to follow, BSAC is now encouraging its members to support these facilities wherever possible. Guidelines for the various sites can be found on their websites with many opening to members first and with restricted booking times.
As we wait for further guidance on Scotland and Wales, we will ensure BSAC’s support continues, and we will update members as more of these vital facilities re-open around the UK.
Alongside Swim England, Scottish Swimming, Swim Wales and Swim Ireland, BSAC has been working with the Government as part of its preparations for the reopening of pools. Initial expectations that pools in England would open on 4 July were frustrated when the Government failed to give the green light to the move, despite pubs, restaurants, hair salons, cinemas and museums being allowed to open for business.
While we are waiting to get fully back into open water, swimming pools can play a vital role in club life, ensuring skills are up-to-date and enabling branches to carefully open back up their diver training programme. BSAC is now putting its full support behind Swim England’s #OpenOurPools campaign and calling on the Government to reconsider their current stance and look at opening swimming pools and leisure centres earlier.
Members can also get involved - for full details on the campaign and to show your support, go to bsac.com/openourpools.
Shaping a positive future for UK diving
Although the last few months have been extremely difficult to navigate, the UK diving industry and the recreational sports sector have really pulled together. As a result, there have been some real positives which will now help to shape the way we all work together in the future.
Faced with many of the same challenges brought about by Covid-19, there has been excellent collaboration between all the watersports National Governing Bodies, as well as the various diving organisations, including the sharing of knowledge, resources and support. We have also worked together to lobby on behalf of our members’ and water users’ interests, as well as safety. We will continue with this positive collaborative working beyond the Covid-19 restrictions, for the benefit of all our members and water users.
BSAC CEO Mary Tetley said:
There is no denying the difficulties we have all experienced over the past three months, but the determination, spirit and positivity shown across BSAC, our diving partners and the wider sports sector has been remarkable.
Ensuring the safe return to diving and the re-opening of the UK diving industry while fully supporting all our clubs and members remains our priority. You can rest assured that we will continue to work on your behalf during these unprecedented times.
For all the latest member updates from BSAC on Covid-19 and the safe return to diving, go to bsac.com/returntodiving or keep an eye on your email inbox for your regular BSAC Spirit updates.