This week has seen the initial signs of the planned routes out of lockdown with announcements by the UK government, covering England, and the Scottish Government, with similar announcements due from Wales and Northern Ireland in due course.
The announcements still depend on specific measures being met but we now have some indication of when diving activity may recommence and we can begin some more focussed, if tentative, planning for a return to the water. Whilst conducting that planning we need to make sure we take account of all related factors associated with the gradual easing over the coming months. Preparations, including working on fitness, should continue using BSAC's online guidance.
Planning for many things, including diving, is not as easy during this pandemic as it is in more normal times. How often during the past 12 months have you thought, “I’ll just go and do…” only to realise that the facility is closed, the location is in an area that is restricted in some way or that the time it will take to get there and back is not achievable? I am sure you will have all experienced many such frustrations, I certainly have!
So whilst there may be a date in your mind when you personally plan to get in the water, make sure you consider carefully that what you plan for is achievable and, importantly, can be done safely.
Looking to inland sites
In England, the initial date when some form of diving could potentially restart is Monday 29 March, just before the Easter weekend. You might consider that it would be sensible to visit an inland managed site to refresh your skills and check out your equipment in a controlled environment. Excellent idea! ...and one we would heartily endorse and encourage.
The inland sites will be very keen to welcome you, too. However, those inland sites will still need to ensure they maintain their Covid-safe procedures to keep their staff and customers safe. Most inland sites have reduced visitor numbers and implemented a booking system to ensure that maximum numbers are not exceeded and people travel don’t unnecessarily. Consider then how many other divers will be like yourself keen to get back in the water? With reduced capacity, you may find that online bookings quickly fill once bookings open.
Can you travel safely?
During the initial relaxation of the lockdown, the message will remain to limit travel to local or limited distances. If you are fortunate to have a dive site within easy travel distance of your home that is great news for you. However, not all of us are within easy proximity of suitable sites.
It may be tempting to travel greater distances but please remember that until the relaxation allows for suitable accommodation to open any journey for diving must be completed and return home in the same day. An important consideration here is to avoid a long car journey, a day diving and then a journey home when you are tired and less fit to drive safely.
When planning an event, course or trip over more than one day the considerations noted above become even more critical. Whilst it may be possible to travel, dive and return home in a single day, if you plan for more than one day and you cannot stay overnight you are committed to the round trip on successive days. This will have a cumulative effect on your physical, and perhaps mental, wellbeing so should be avoided.
BSAC Safety & 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.