The British Diving Safety Group (BDSG), which includes representatives of all UK diver-training agencies and many other bodies including the Coastguard and RNLI, has issued its interpretation of the latest national coronavirus lockdown guidance as it affects recreational diving.
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Expanding on the advice that shore-diving should be possible, the BDSG suggests that, apart from local shore-diving, travelling to a site is permissible.
The government advises that “you may spend time or exercise outdoors – this should be done locally where possible, but you can travel to do so if necessary”. This the BDSG says could include travelling to a public beach, where it might be possible to shore-dive with one other person. Allowable distances are not specified.
It would be “very difficult” to carry out training under the current guidelines, says the group, but this is “not explicitly banned”. Anyone carrying out commercial training would need to comply with HSE Diving at Work regulations as well as Covid-19 guidance.
The BDSG is urging anyone who does decide to go diving during lockdown to exercise caution, take responsible decisions and consider the implications of their actions.
“No one heads to the coast or out on the water with the mindset of needing to be rescued, yet we undertake thousands of rescues each year,” said RNLI Head of Water Safety Gareth Morrison.
“Our volunteer lifeboat crews have continued to operate throughout the pandemic and remain on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies. But anyone going on or in the water must understand the risks and take the necessary steps to keep themselves as safe as possible.
“During the pandemic, we must all take reasonable precautions to reduce the demands on RNLI and independent lifeboat crews, HM Coastguard, and other emergency services. In an emergency though, please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
Official lockdown guidance for England can be found here and there is separate guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.