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Getting back to scuba diving using social distance rules

Blow is an outline of the procedures Underwater adventures have put in place to keep divers safe while in training and this is followed by guidance for divers just going for fun dives along with all we know about current scuba diving opportunities, which sites and boat operators are working and the procedures they have in place

You can also watch the full Zoom meeting the dive club had on this subject where we discuss the procedures and how we can get back into scuba diving


Covid 19 procedure’s for training dives with underwater adventures

These procedures are put in place to limit as much as possible the risk of spreading the virus between divers while on scuba diving courses with underwater adventures. Each member of the dive team should be aware and have a full understanding of the procedures before each course to help make sure all students adhere to the procedures at all times on the course. All students will be given a form which will list the procedures and their responsibilities with regards to reducing the risk of the spread and making sure any tracking needed afterward can be carried out as per the government’s guidelines and common scene.

General onsite procedures.
Everyone is expected to adhere to 2 metre social distancing at all times on the surface where possible. With this in mind, everyone will be split into buddy pairs and you will stay in these buddy pairs throughout the course to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. There will be hand sanitizer on site so that everyone can sanitize their hands whenever you have to touch anything which is not yours i.e. doing up dry suits and helping on your buddies equipment. It is recommended that you bring your own face mask to wear on the surface before and after dives (please remember to dispose of any facemasks and other PPE you use properly to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and any damage to the environment.
We will inform all dive team and students who they will be buddied with before the start of the day of the dives and we ask that you park your cars next to each other to avoid crossing and unnecessary risks from coming in contact with other buddy pairs, we ask that you use the space behind your car to kit up and de-kit after the dive, if you need any spares, please contact shore support who will be in charge of equipment. Please stay in the space behind your car with your equipment unless otherwise told and please do not leave any equipment near the water at any time to avoid unnecessary movement around the site and the risk of others touching your equipment by accident.
They will be no café open at the site and as it is very important that everyone stays hydrated we strongly advise that you bring your own water to the dive site each day and not share it with anyone else if you forget we will have a couple of sealed water bottles for sale which will be wiped down with an antiseptic wipe when being handed over. For tea, coffee, and food, again you will need to provide your own and again we strongly recommend that you do not share with anyone else to avoid the chance of cross-contamination.
Dive site entry fees can be paid using contactless payments at the site but there will be no handing over of cash. If people want to they can transfer the entry fee over to underwater adventures who will then arrange to pay it with the dive schools normal payment thus reducing contact with dive site staff but this must be done at least two days beforehand
You will need to register at the dive site and with underwater adventures shore support when you arrive at the dive site and when you leave as there will be a limited number of people allowed on-site at any one time so we can keep track in case of anyone showing signs of infection.
Any paperwork which needs to be filled out other than paperwork for that day's diving must be completed and emailed over to underwater adventures at least two days before the day of diving and the filling in of logbook should be completed off-site, we would suggest the signing of logbooks to be completed after the virus is under control and suggest just making a note of who needs to sign your logbook so it can be completed later. The details from each dive, depth, times, air in, and the like will be emailed out to everyone after the qualifying weekend.
Rental equipment
We strongly suggest you use all your own equipment where possible. If you need any school equipment please let us know beforehand of exactly what you need including the size at least two days beforehand, this equipment will then be disinfected and placed in a plastic bag with your name on it to be given to you on the day. When you have finished with the rental equipment, it is to be placed back in the same plastic bag to be picked up by shore support and placed back in the van

No primary second stage regulator will have a mouthpiece on them, you can either provide your own or we will provide one for you which you will place on the regulator yourself and then remove at the end of the day. If you have rented a mouthpiece you will be responsible for it and it is down to the renter to remove the mouthpiece and place it in the disinfectant container with the knowledge of the shore support.
Note. If you are renting a set of Regulators but are not on a course you will need to provide your own mouthpiece and you are responsible for putting it on and removing it after use. You can either but direct from underwater adventures at the same time as you submit your rental application or you can purchase Apex Mouthpieces online.

Site briefings
The dive leader will give the briefings as normal with everyone keeping at least 2 metres from everyone. In the event of a large group where not everyone can hear clearly, the group will be split into 2 or 3 smaller groups where everyone can clearly hear the dive briefing/debriefing while still keeping at least 2 metres apart. If the dive team or students can’t hear clearly they must inform the dive leader giving the briefing/debriefing so changes can be made. It is important for everyone’s safety that everyone hears the briefings clearly and understands what to do while keeping 2 metres apart.

Buddy checks
Buddy checks can be completed in the normal set order with the diver themselves checking the equipment with the buddy looking on from 2 metres away. For parts where the buddy needs to touch any equipment, please use the hand sanitizer before and after touching the equipment, the hand sanitizer does help kill the virus for a couple of minutes after application so this will help protect you while you touch other people equipment as well as helping to keep their equipment clean.

In the water
Please keep mask and regulators on while on the surface, only removing the regulator to ask questions. This will allow us to stay at safe distances to our buddies and in the training group while protecting the training group as a whole and staying safe while scuba diving

Buddy skills
navigations on the surface for open water and advanced students.
Both parties will wear facemasks during this as it will not be possible to always stay 2 metres apart while going through this skill in the car park. When doing the navigation skills in the water and on the surface, you will keep your mask on and regulator in at all times. Please also try to avoid breathing downwind of someone with a regulator in and think about the direction the air is heading when you breathe out of a regulator or snorkel.

The mouthpiece on the Alternate air source will be disinfected before the dive by the diver who will be using it in the water and that will not be touched by anyone else until this skill is over

Rescue diver course
While we are still waiting on the full guidance from PADI on how to perform the set skills safely pocket masks will be used for ALL rescue breathing and all rescue patients must keep eyes closed to minimize the risk of infections while performing the rescue breathing skill.

Fun dives
With limited spaces at the dive site fun dives with the club on qualifying weekends will be very limited based on spaces available after staff and students and will be offered on a first come first serve basis.

Pool dives
We will be using the Polam pool in Bedford for all courses for the foreseeable future as that pool allows complete control of the pool environment and building area. All pool users are asked to arrive no more than 5 minutes before the start of their pool session so that we can avoid groups mixing int eh entry and viewing areas. All students are asked to arrive wearing their swimming costumes under their main clothes so they are able to get changed at poolside before getting in the pool and the groups will be kept small enough so that the students are able to use the changing rooms after a pool session while keeping the 2 metre social distancing. Hand sanitizer is available at the entry to the pool building, at the poolside for whenever someone needs to touch other equipment or surfaces and there will be hand sanitizer in both of the changing rooms. 
Social distancing rule will still apply while we are in the water and on the surface but obviously are not needed while we are underwater.


General procedures for fun diving during Covid 19

Please read the guidance sheet for training with underwater adventures for procedures on how to keep to the social distancing rules while scuba diving as much as is possible.

Inland dive sites
Most dive sites will have their own rules and you must contact each site individually before going to make sure you are aware of the new rules in place, but a general summation is below.
Most sites will expect you to pre-book you dive so that they can limit the number of divers on-site at any one time to allow for social distancing of all divers and staff while the site is open. This currently also involves being a member of the dive site to allow you to pre-book so with Stoney cove and Gildenburgh you will need to be members of their own on-site membership. There are also online book facilities with these dive sites with Stoney coves new app hopefully coming online on Wednesday and Gildenburgh’s booking system going through their website
One of the reasons for only allowing members in is for the track and trace should anyone come down with it afterward. The government systems is not the greats and actually don’t seem to be working at the moment so if someone does come down with Covid 19 the owners of the dive site will not only have a record of who is on-site but also how to contact them through their membership registration.
Gildenburgh opened on Sunday and Stoney cover is planning on opening on Thursday.
Wraysbury is open and they don’t take card payments and you can’t pre-book. You will need to just turn up at the site and they will let you in when there is space. You will also need to bring exact change for the £15 entry fee as you will need to post it through a hole in a payment box and they will not give you change. It is the same for air fills, you will need to plan for them and bring exact change.
Vobster is not yet open to divers but is open to swimming and from tomorrow  (10th June) you will need to book a 2-hour slot for your swim which you must stick to. It looks like they are planning on opening in July
NDAC is Still closed.

While on-site
You will be expected to get changed by your cars and not hang around before or after the dive and depending on the site you might only be allowed the one dive you booked. None of the cafes will be open and neither will the shops to discourage you from hanging around after your dive. This is again so they can limit the number of people on-site at any one time.
You will also be expected to not be our normal sociable selves and stand around chatting on-site with other friends you might have met on site. Basically they just would like to do your dive and leave the site as quickly as comfortable.

Air fills
The guidance from HSE is that they are two ways to fill a tank during social distancing
  1. 72 hours. The diver drops the tank off for a fill at a position and then backs away at least 2m so the operator while wearing PPE, can more in and pick up the tank. The tank is then filled and left to stand for 72 hours so there is no risk of contamination being passed. PPE is changed after each tank. The process is reversed for the pick-up.
  2. The quick fill. 2m distancing rules apply. Once the tank is left the operator will thoroughly disinfect the tank, the tank valve including the threads and the whip including the threads, fill the tank and then pass it back. Due to the risk of water egress into the tank from the cleaning, it is highly recommended that the owner makes sure the valve is dry and realizes some air from the valve before any use to remove as much of the cleaning product as possible.
Obviously, both options will involve payment online or by contactless cards payment system except at Wraysbury as mentioned before.

Boat diving.
Edit 11/06/2020
New guidance from the Government, the important bit for us as divers is;
Skippered day-boat hire and skippered day charter hire
Operators should not allow skippered day boat hire or skippered day charter boat hire.

Obviously the guidance from the government postpones are getting back to boat diving but when we can in the future the below guidance will then come back into force. Let hope it's not too long.

With boat diving, what we are seeing is a shrinkage of numbers allowed on the boat to allow for social distancing. Most, that are running, have dropped down to a max of 6 per boat and are asking you to stick to your buddy teams to lessen the chance of cross-contamination between groups. Again payment will be made online and you should be bringing your own snacks and drinks.
With this drop in the number of passengers allowed the price will be going up as it will still cost the same to run as before so expect to be paying around 50 % more depending on which boat you go with.
The main issue for club members is that due to our location and the fact that hotels are not an option, we are limited to where we can dive, unfortunately, trips to Cornwall or St Abbs are out with them when they open again as Swanage is close enough for us to do in a day, just about, and I have been looking at Brighton who has already started running trips. If club members are interested in either of these two I can arrange trips down for us but please remember it will be limited numbers.

Shore diving
We can pretty much go shore diving anywhere with a bit of planning and we do have a number of options close enough for the dive club members to do in a day. I will start putting these out for July but please remember to read the underwater adventures training procedures for social distancing while scuba diving and you will also find the procedures for hiring equipment there.