As a second national coronavirus lockdown comes into force tomorrow (5 November), scuba diving’s UK governing body the British Sub-Aqua Club says it might be possible to shore-dive with one other person from your own or another household – as long as the site is only a short distance from your home.
Ahead of publication of detailed guidelines Divernet had asked the Cabinet Office on 3 November to clarify whether scuba diving would be permitted as “exercise” during lockdown, but was told only that “more guidance will be published before the law comes into effect on Thursday”, and pointed towards the instruction that indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, including swimming pools and, though not specified, dive-centres, would have to close.
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A number of managed inland dive-sites have already announced that they will be closing from Thursday to comply with the government ruling.
Requirements for individuals published so far state that outdoor physical activity can continue in a public place and can be conducted with one other person from a different household, and that people can travel for exercise but should make only short journeys to do so. This does not appear to rule out local diving (although lack of access to gas supplies or bad weather might do so).
BSAC says it has written to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to outline its concerns for UK sport diving, drawing attention to the physical and mental benefits of outdoor recreation and exercise, which it says have been recognised as “increasingly crucial in mitigating the effects of the restrictions during this pandemic”.
In its letter BSAC stresses the extensive guidance on compliance with Covid-19 restrictions that it has published and the self-contained nature of scuba diving as well as, with winter training in mind, the effects of chlorine “inactivating the virus” in swimming pools. It says it supports the campaign of fellow-governing body Swim England to keep public pools open through the lockdown.
It has also requested its members to sign a petition launched by UK Active for the government to put in place a sports recovery fund to save community sports clubs and leisure facilities.
The petition, which needs 100,000 signatures to be debated in Parliament and has so far collected just over 15,000, can be signed here.
Scotland’s own five-tier system of local restrictions has not gone beyond tier 3 as yet so diving remains possible there, while Wales’ “firebreak” lockdown ends on 9 November, after which restrictions on outdoor sports should be lifted.