On Thursday 21 May 2020) the British Diving Safety Group COVID-19 team met to discuss the resumption of recreational diving activities.
The working group has cautiously welcomed a mindful, progressive return to shore diving, because it naturally lends itself to social distancing above the surface. It is worth noting that below the surface divers routinely dive in full personal protective equipment (PPE).
The BDSG has today issued clear guidance for diving in England. When the devolved Government advice changes in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the BDSG will also amend its advice. The Republic of Ireland resumed limited diving activities on Monday 18 May, eg recreational non-training shore diving to 12 metres.
BDSG Guidance for diving in England, as of 21 May 2020
1) You must follow the Coronavirus (COVID-19) government guidance for your country at all times.
2) You must follow the normal safety protocols recommended by your training organisation, and any special guidance provided by them regarding COVID-19.
3) Without any specific guidance on water sports or diving, it is the BDSG’s interpretation that diving is considered as an outdoor activity and as such, shore diving should be practical if done while following points 5 and 6.
4) Boat diving will be inherently less practical, but some boat operators may be able to meet these recommendations.
5) You can dive with one other person not from your household if you follow the two-metre rule while out of the water.
6) You can dive with anyone from your household and there is no need to follow the two-metre rule while out of the water.
7) If you have had symptoms or positive testing for COVID-19, consult with a doctor before diving, ideally a doctor specialising in diving medicine, eg UK Diving Medical Committee (www.ukdmc.org). In any event, you should be following self-isolation guidelines relevant for your country if you have tested positive for COVID-19, came into contact with anyone tested positive or have any symptoms or suspect that you may have COVID-19.
8) We strongly recommend that only experienced and fit divers return to diving at this stage, due to the limited capacity of the emergency services.
We believe that the Scottish Government will amend their COVID-19 restrictions on 28 May 2020.
At present the BDSG COVID-19 Working Group is meeting on a weekly basis, in order to review this guidance as the situation evolves.
The members are
- BHA (British Hyperbaric Association)
- BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club)
- DAN Europe (Divers Alert Network)
- DDRC Healthcare (Diving Diseases Research Centre)
- Diving Ireland (Irish Underwater Council)
- FIDS (Federation of Inland Dive Sites)
- GADAP (Global Association of Diving Assistance Providers)
- GUE (Global Underwater Explorers)
- HSE Diving Inspectorate (Health & Safety)
- IANTD (International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers)
- IDEST (Inspectorate for Diving Equipment, Servicing and Testing)
- PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)
- PBA (Professional Boatman’s Association)
- PSAI Europe (Professional Scuba Association International)
- RAID UK & Malta (Rebreather Association of International Divers)
- RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute)
- SAA (Sub Aqua Association)
- ScotSac (Scottish Sub Aqua Club)
- SITA (Scuba Industries Trade Association)
- SSI (Scuba Schools International)
- TDI / SDI (Technical Diving International / Scuba Diving International)
- UK DMC (Diving Medical Committee)
The British Diving Safety Group (BDSG) was formed in 2002 to promote safe diving practices amongst the British sport diving community.
It is chaired by the RNLI. The group has broad representation, with all of the UK diver training agencies, the HSE and the MCA having a seat at the table.
These organisations regularly meet in order to work towards a common goal; to make diving safer. By sharing and analysing incident data, devising safety initiatives and then promoting them to divers, the group has a broad influence on the recreational diving community. The comprehensive nature of the BDSG, reflecting as it does all of the significant interests in the British sport diving scene means that it is uniquely positioned to significantly influence diving safety.