BSAC's Safety and Development Manager Jim Watson looks at the current situation regarding Covid-19 and what the winter months might bring.
At the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were warned that the virus would be most prevalent during the colder months of the year and we all hoped it would have disappeared before now! Sadly, that wasn’t to be the case and it is evident, as the days get shorter and the temperature drops, that the prediction is proving to be very much the case with significant growth in positive cases evident not just in the UK but throughout the northern hemisphere.
Increasingly, local restrictions are being imposed within different areas of the UK and there are growing calls for short term returns to lockdowns or ‘circuit breaker’ to break or slow the spread of the virus (Wales has just announced a ‘firebreak’).
Playing our part
Whilst we all have responsibility for our own safety, we also have a wider responsibility for our buddies and those we associate with through our activity. During the current pandemic that means we ALL must take on the additional responsibility to each other to keep each other safe from the risk from the virus. This will include making sure we each individually are aware of the current rules and how they impact us and trying wherever possible to engage in organised activity so that there is some oversight on compliance.
Properly managed activity, not just diving, has been recognised to provide a safer and consequently more enjoyable activity. The added benefits for Covid-19 security where an activity is risk assessed (to include Covid-19 risks) and directly managed (including Covid-19 compliance) not only helps keep everyone safe but also reduces the risk of spreading the virus.
Return to training
During the early stages of the easing of lockdown we advised on a steady progressive return to activity through initial shore diving and then built on that foundation to advise on a planned return to training activity with appropriate additional safety measures. A return to pool training has been possible for some but not all due to facility access issues. However, where the benefits of the ‘managed activity’ are highlighted this is allowing some clubs to return to this activity with the safety assurances it provides.
Nationally, BSAC has been working to implement a managed and planned reintroduction of ITS and other events making extensive use of the safety management procedures offered by centrally organized events. Open Water Instructor Courses (OWIC), PIE and online TIEs have already been offered and it is planned to extend these, subject to venue availability.
The 2021 list of events is also due for release in the hope that the virus remains sufficiently under control. The commitment is to offer a safely managed environment to allow members continued opportunities for progression of their interests. Keeping yourself and others safe and preventing the further spread of the virus will contribute to ensuring those opportunities are possible. However, in these continuing uncertain times, Covid-19 restrictions to control the spread may impact on planned activity and events so we should all monitor the ongoing situation and play our part in managing the risks.
Think SAFE - dive SAFE
Safety and Development Manager
BSAC has released guidance to help members and the wider diving community prepare for a safe return to the water. Check it out.