Covid-19 guidance

COVID-19 guidance for Gwent MC members
List of sources
Duty of care
Guidance for individual meet participants
Guidance for meet leaders
Use of Club equipment
Weekend walking
Climbing outdoors
Climbing indoors
Summer evenings – walking (Thursdays)
Winter evenings – Goytre Village Hall (Thursdays)
Winter evenings – Night Walks (Second Thursdays)
Weekend/week away meets
Meets abroad

  1. General
    This document contains guidance to Club members on COVID-19 precautions to be observed in
    relation to Club activities for the foreseeable future.
    This document will be reviewed and updated regularly as the situation changes and in line with latest
    Government and BMC advice.
    Last updated: 29th June 2020
  2. List of sources
    National Health Service:
    ● Coronavirus COVID-19 Symptom Checker (NHS 111 Wales).
    ● (England version, 111 Online)
    ● Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Information on COVID-19).
    UK Government:
    ● Coronavirus advice and legislation: Some of this may be
    England specific and/or replaced by specific local advice/legislation in the regions (Wales,
    Scotland, Northern Ireland). Check regional government websites. Welsh Government links
    given below.
    Welsh Government:
    ● General coronavirus advice:
    ● Legislation and guidance on the law:
    law .
    ● Frequently asked questions:
    National Parks:
    ● Brecon Beacons:
    ● Pembrokeshire Coast:
    ● Snowdonia:
    ● Lake District:
    British Mountaineering Council: Unfortunately,
    there’s no single page gathering all relevant advice in one place. The link given lists many recent
    articles tagged as relevant to coronavirus.
    Mountaineering Scotland:
  3. Duty of care
    Every member of Gwent MC has a duty of care to themselves, to other members and to the wider
    public, including those acting for the emergency services.
    Every member must adhere to Government guidance on protecting the wider population and the
    NHS. Every member must adhere to guidance from relevant sporting authorities such as the BMC
    and to guidance from Gwent MC itself concerned with protecting other club members (see below).
    Ideally, all members should also adhere to Government guidance aimed at protecting themselves
    as individuals. Except where statutory requirements exist, this is in the end a matter of choice for the
    individual as to what risks they are willing to expose themselves to.
  4. Guidance for individual meet participants
    Individuals will want to assess the extent to which they consider themselves vulnerable, whether due
    to age, underlying health conditions or other factors. Such assessments should be made before each
    and every Club meet. You should consider the nature of the activity and its duration, the terrain, the
    weather forecast, and your own skills and competencies. Remember, your mountain fitness may
    have declined through the lockdown period and it may take some weeks to regain a previous level
    of fitness. If in doubt, do not participate or seek advice.
    The possibility of having to rely on emergency services, especially mountain rescue teams must be
    minimised. Each individual member should exercise extra prudence in their ambitions and stay well
    within their capabilities. More than ever, members are expected to have the necessary skills for selfreliance
    in the event of an unforeseen incident – either to themselves or to another person. This
    especially means the ability to navigate an escape route in poor weather and basic first aid skills.
    The following rules apply to ALL individuals for ALL club meets, outdoors or indoors as
    ● Members must not participate if they or any member of their household has COVID-19
    symptoms (one or more of high temperature, continuous cough, or loss/change in sense of
    smell/taste. See links above for NHS guidance on symptoms).
    ● Maintain social distancing requirements (2m currently). Pay attention to this as it’s easy to
    drift closer together. Members should not be afraid to ask other members to move away if
    their space is being invaded.
    ● Wear a face mask if the social distancing requirement cannot be met for a short period of
    time; (up to 15 minutes). Examples for when this might be necessary include the following:
    a. When buying a drink from a bar;
    b. When occupying a small belay with another climber;
    c. When sharing a wind shelter for a rest/break.
    Members are expected to carry a face mask as a part of their standard hill/rock kit for
    the foreseeable future.
    ● Practice proper hand hygiene – wash with soap and water when possible; otherwise use an
    alcohol-based gel. Carry this in an easily accessible location on your person.
    Members are expected to carry hand-gel as a part of their standard hill/rock kit for the
    foreseeable future.
    ● Be self-sufficient. As far as possible, do not share equipment. Carry enough food and drink
    for your own needs. Make sure you have adequate clothing, including a spare hat and gloves
    and a survival/bothy bag.
    ● Climbers and scramblers should take extra care. Handling gear and touching rock is
    unavoidable so climbers should use their own gear and avoid sharing as much as possible.
    Similarly, climbers/scramblers should aim to minimise handling of other people’s gear and/or
    in-situ gear. Assume gear/rock is contaminated and avoid touching your face while climbing.
    Sanitise your hands frequently (e.g., before and after completing a route, between pitches,
  5. Guidance for meet leaders
    Risk assessment
    Early on, when thinking about where/when to organise and lead a meet, meet leaders should carry
    out a risk assessment for the planned activity. In addition to routine matters of route planning,
    checking the weather forecast, packing the correct equipment, etc., meet leaders should now pay
    specific attention to the following:
    ● What is the maximum group size that is sensible? Will you ask people to inform you of their
    intention to participate? Will you set and announce upfront a limit on numbers?
    ● Is there sufficient car parking? And will it be empty/full when you arrive there?
    ● Can social distancing requirements be maintained throughout?
    ● Is there a need to appoint an experienced back marker / tail-end Charlie to bring up the rear
    or to act in the case of a group becoming split?
    ● Will the planned meet bring members into close contact with each other, or with other
    members of the public? To what extent and for how long?
    ● Are there pinch points where people would be expected to come into closer proximity? How
    can that be avoided?
    ● What is the level of risk of contamination from touching hard surfaces? And how will that be
    mitigated? Ensure each person cleans their hands after touching a gate, for example.
    ● What are the escape routes?
    For each factor, the meet leader should assess the risk on a scale of low, medium, or high risk.
    In practice, the constraint most likely to affect group size is the avoidance of car sharing and whether
    enough car parking space is available at the meeting point.
    General directions for meet leaders
    Social distancing will be easier for walking groups to maintain than for climbers belaying. Meet
    leaders should remind participants of their obligations (see above).
    The risk of contamination is highest from hard surfaces such as rock, climbing equipment, gates and
    styles. Avoiding touching these surfaces is the best defence. Remind participants present.
    Lunch and other break stops should maintain social distancing. Thus, look for and use well sheltered
    opportunities, especially in poor weather even if this means the normal rhythm of breaks is disrupted.
    Although never condoned, barbed/pig wire fences and stone walls sometimes must be crossed.
    Such crossings often bring people into close proximity as they assist one another. All efforts MUST
    be taken to avoid such situations and to find an alternative route – even when that means a detour.
    List of usable car parks
    To be provided.
  6. Use of Club equipment
    The following rules apply, as appropriate for the use of Club equipment:
    ● No Club equipment/gear to be shared around during meets unless it can be sanitised inbetween
    passing from one member to another.
    ● If a member wants to borrow something (ice axe, harness, via ferrata kit, etc.) it must be
    sanitised on handover and/or quarantined for a week before use. Similarly on return.
    Equipment should be transported in plastic bags or similar.
    ● Abseil ropes must be quarantined after use (as well as usually being washed after sea cliff
    climbing). Ropes must be transported in plastic bags or similar.
    ● For the two club emergency shelters, these can continue to be carried as necessary during
    the winter but will be for emergency use only i.e., in the event of an injury. They are, in effect,
    permanently in quarantine so long as they are held by a single healthy member. As with other
    gear, if they need to be transferred to another member, they must be quarantined for one
    week after transfer.
    ● For the flasks, pans and other utensils typically used for the Christmas pudding gathering,
    we will discuss whether and how this might go ahead this year.
  7. Weekend walking
    Stay well within your capabilities. Be less ambitious than you might otherwise be normally.
  8. Climbing outdoors
    Climbers and scramblers should familiarise themselves with the latest BMC guidelines on climbing.
    See links above.
    It has been suggested that sanitising shared equipment can be done with the use of electrolyzed
    water (a.k.a. Hypochlorous Acid); for example products such as Natrasan and Salvesan are
    suggested as suitable.
    Stay well within your capabilities. Be less ambitious than you might otherwise be normally.
    ● Avoid popular routes for the foreseeable future.
    ● Start with single pitch sports routes.
    ● Use your own climbing equipment.
    ● Ensure social distancing when tying on and when being lowered back down.
    ● Sanitise hands after tying on and belaying.
    ● Sanitise lower off points before being lowered back down.
    ● Use a similar approach for single pitch trad routes.
    ● Multi-pitch routes are more problematic, especially ensuring social distancing at stances.
    Wear a face mask whilst sharing stances.
  9. Climbing indoors
    Climbing indoors can resume as and when individual climbing wall establishments reopen their
    doors. Climbers must be guided by and will need to adhere to the regulations put in place by the
    management of individual establishments.
    It has been suggested that sanitising shared equipment can be done with the use of electrolyzed
    water (a.k.a. Hypochlorous Acid); for example products such as Natrasan and Salvesan are
    suggested as suitable.
    ● Avoid venues at popular times i.e., minimise crowds.
    ● Use your own climbing equipment.
    ● Ensure social distancing when tying on and when being lowered back down.
    ● Sanitise hands after tying on and belaying.
    ● Sanitise lower off points before being lowered back down.
    ● Wear a face mask if necessary.
  10. Summer evenings – walking (Thursdays)
    The summer evening programme will not resume in 2020.
    The large numbers of persons typically turning out for these meets, the difficulties that causes for
    non-shared travel and car parking, and the difficulty of maintaining social distancing in confined
    spaces of the pubs we typically use dictate that it is not prudent to resume this year.
  11. Winter evenings – Goytre Village Hall (Thursdays)
    This will need to be further considered after it becomes clear what rules the village hall and the social
    club will be putting in place to protect users/members/visitors.
    It is probably reasonably easy to maintain the social distancing requirement in the village hall but
    more difficult in the social club.
    Early trials and experience have shown that virtual meets using Zoom Webconferencing technology
    are both possible, and at present popular. Short presentations of 20 minutes or so are sufficient to
    attract interest without losing attention.
  12. Winter evenings – Night Walks (Second Thursdays)
    Winter night walks tend not to attract large turnouts, so these could still go ahead. This will need to
    be further considered when planning the Winter 2020/21 programme.
    Whether or not gathering afterwards in a pub is possible remains to be seen but this component of
    the meet could be omitted i.e., turn up, go for walk, go home. We need to bear in mind that social
    distancing makes it trickier for the leader in the dark to monitor the whereabouts of all group
    members, and that group members might be more likely in the dark to become detached from the
  13. Weekend/week away meets
    To be further considered.
    The Cornwall YHA meet scheduled for September 2020 has been cancelled by YHA. YHA are taking
    a cautious approach and only re-opening selected hostels where protective measures can be most
    easily implemented. Even so, access to many hostel facilities (such as drying rooms, communal
    kitchens, etc.) will not be possible.
    Easter (Glen Sheil/Kintail) and Spring (Arran) meets scheduled for 2020 have been re-booked for
    Guidance above for weekend walking will generally apply too. A key question to address will concern
    car sharing for travel to/from and while in the area.
  14. Meets abroad
    To be further considered.