With travel abroad largely ruled out for UK scuba divers in the near future, many might be thinking about diving in the UK, and the risks involved in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governing body the British Sub-Aqua Club has issued guidance for its members in the short-term, bearing in mind that the situation is evolving rapidly, with the possibility of lockdowns that could over-ride existing advice.
“There is a need to balance safety advice and our wider responsibilities,” says BSAC Safety & Development Manager Jim Watson in a statement issued by the club. “No one decision or method is right for everyone, as can be clearly demonstrated by different countries and governments’ responses to the same problem (even within the UK).”
In the light of conflicting health and safety advice from multiple sources, BSAC recommends making the government website the single point of reference for up-to-date and consistent information when deciding whether it’s safe to go diving.
“Those at most risk from the current virus are those with long-term chronic illnesses and compromised immunity and, as such, are unlikely to be within the diving community,” says Watson. “However, most of us have extended families who may well fall into those categories and so could be at risk if we do not take appropriate steps to distance ourselves from the risk of contamination from contact with others.”
Deciding whether to take part in an open-air activity such as diving depends on the environment and potential for contact, says Watson. If divers decided to go diving having considered their general health, carefully analysed each individual’s potential for exposure and their care and concern for relatives, they “should not be subjected to adverse criticism for their decision”.
Further guidance is given regarding training and potential for divers to contribute skills such as CPR and oxygen training in emergency situations if required. The BSAC statement can be found here.
No mention is made of Coronavirus on the website of PADI, the world’s largest training agency, although CEO Drew Richardson did issue a press statement earlier this week pledging support for PADI professionals.