Coronavirus

As the nations of the UK and Ireland remove restrictions, we’re pleased to see courses running and candidates being trained and assessed once more. We strongly believe in the benefits of our courses, we recognise the effort required by candidates to complete a qualification and we are grateful to our providers for putting in place mitigation measures in an evolving landscape.

We are liaising with the mountaineering councils and government agencies in all nations and endeavour to update this information as quickly as possible following any new announcement, bearing in mind that it often takes several days to digest and interpret any new guidance/legislation and reach an agreed conclusion.

For information three Mountaineering Scotland members have been involved in producing a scientific paper on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mountain sports. The key conclusion in the paper, which is currently being peer reviewed, is that there is no evidence of anyone becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 during outdoor mountain sports, suggesting that the SARS- CoV-2 infection risk is low while pursuing these activities. The paper summarises measures that can be adopted to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection during mountain sports and associated activities, and makes a recommendation on how to return to mountain sport after a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Find out more.

Please contact one of our approved providers if you have any questions or concerns about taking part in a Mountain Training course.

England

Updated: 19/07/2021

The latest government guidance is available here.

As oulined within;
  • If you think you might have COVID-19 symptoms, take a PCR test and stay home.
  • Wear face coverings in crowded places to help protect others.
  • Check in with the NHS COVID-19 app when you’re out.
  • Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds with soap.
As a result of the recent easing of restrictions all Mountain Training course delivery is now possible in England.

Although these greater freedoms will be welcomed by many of us please remain cautious and considerate to the needs of other candidates, local communities and the environment when attending courses.

Useful links:

MTA - Helping keep outdoor activities Covid secure

Countryside Code in England

Ireland

Updated: 09/09/2021

The Irish government has issued new guidance on lockdown restrictions to move to permit inter county travel.

From 19th July
  • No travel restrictions in RoI
  • Outdoor training of a maximum of 15 people
  • Maintain appropriate hygiene measures both personal and for equipment rigorously in line with wider guidance on hygiene, for example by using antiviral spray and washing hands thoroughly before and after use.
  • Maintain physical/social distancing of 2 metres as per government guidance.

Mountaineering Ireland & Mountain Training Board Ireland has considered the guidance above and believe it is possible for NGB Providers to engage in limited activity in Ireland subject to appropriate control measures, inter county travel and groups of up to 15 for outdoor training. At all times, you should continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, particularly ensuring you are two metres away from anyone outside your household.

Continuing from 2nd June (subject to the public health situation at the time) Accommodation services (Hotels, B&B, self-catering and hostels) can reopen.

Continuing 19th July (subject to the public health situation at the time) Climbing walls can open for individual training only.

To make any decision on whether to go ahead with an activity, please consider the usual factors and include those additional factors brought about by Covid – 19 including government guidance, parking, mountain rescue service capacity. Our guidance on safe practice in the outdoors issued to Mountain Training Association members may also prove useful. Leaders are responsible for the safety of staff, and group and will need to have satisfied their own risk assessment about Covid-19 as well as having appropriate insurance cover in place.

Although MI & MTBI appreciates that leaders have a genuine need to return to work and will be keen to get back to leading a cautious approach will be necessary to both limit the spread of infection and respect local sentiment. As such providers in Ireland should take note of local information and advice from organisations such as their own membership organisations (AMI, BAIML, BMG and MTA), Mountaineering Councils (MI, the BMC, MS), National Parks & Wildlife Services, National Park Authorities, Mountain Rescue Teams and local Tourist Boards. Leaders must consider the reputation of our sector and act accordingly.

It is important that our network of providers maintain the quality of what we do. We are presently considering how we can further support providers in these challenging times and welcome dialogue.

Finally, please note once again that this currently only affects providers in Ireland. As the situation develops in other countries, we will issue further coordinated updates. The guidance for Ireland may change in line with the Government’s advice and may need to be reversed if required.

Useful links:

Mountaineering Ireland

Irish Government Guidance

Mountaineering Ireland Good Practice Guide

Northern Ireland

Updated: 09/09/2021

The UK government lockdown restrictions allow travel within Northern Ireland and up to 10 people from 2 different households to meet in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland.
  • Travel in Northern Ireland permitted.
  • Groups of up to 15 people can take part in structured outdoor sports training,
  • Maintaining hand and respiratory hygiene practices.
  • Maintain physical/social distancing of 2 metres as per government guidance.
  • You should also enforce strong hygiene measures. This might be cleaning any equipment rigorously in line with wider guidance on hygiene, for example by using antiviral spray and washing hands thoroughly before and after use.
Mountaineering Ireland & Mountain Training Board Ireland has considered the guidance above and believe it is possible for NGB providers to engage in limited activity in Northern Ireland, whilst following the government guidelines of travel group size x15 people (including trainers/coaches/leaders)

At all times, you should continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, particularly ensuring you are two metres away from anyone outside your household. It is really important that everyone continues to:
  • Follow the advice being offered by the Government based on medical and scientific evidence, including the current ‘stay at home’ advice while that remains in place
  • Wash our hands regularly and in line with the best practice guidance.
  • Have good respiratory hygiene in terms of coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your elbow.
  • Follow the social distancing guidelines and stay two metres away from those outside your household whenever possible.
  • Use face coverings (mouth and nose) when you are in enclosed spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained. For example, when using public transport and while in shops.
  • Abide by the need to self-isolate either because you have symptoms or because you have been in touch with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus. This includes if contacted by the contact tracing arrangements in place.
  • The NI Executive also ask those in society with responsibilities to exercise them in line with up-to-date public health guidance.
Activities do not lend themselves to involve overnight stays (including camping) or the use of indoor venues for briefings or debriefs.

Climbing walls and centres are open with a risk assessment required for group of over 15.

To make any decision on whether to go ahead with an activity, please consider the usual factors and include those additional factors brought about by Covid – 19 including government guidance, parking, mountain rescue service capacity. Our guidance on safe practice in the outdoors issued to Mountain Training Association members may also prove useful. Leaders are responsible for the safety of their staff and group, need to have satisfied their own risk assessment about Covid-19 as well as having appropriate insurance cover in place. Although MI & MTBI appreciates that leaders have a genuine need to return to work and will be keen to get back to leading a cautious approach will be necessary to both limit the spread of infection and respect local sentiment. As such providers in Northern Ireland should take note of local information and advice from organisations such as their own membership organisations (AMI, BAIML, BMG and MTA), Mountaineering Councils (MI, the BMC, MS), National Park Authorities, National Parks & Wildlife Services, Mountain Rescue Teams and local Tourist Boards. Leaders must consider the reputation of our sector or group and act accordingly. It is important that our network of providers maintain the quality of what we do. We are presently considering how we can further support providers during these challenging times and welcome dialogue.

Finally, please note once again that this currently only affects providers in Northern Ireland. As the situation develops in other countries, we will issue further coordinated updates. The guidance for Northern Ireland may change in line with the Government’s advice and may need to be reversed if required.

Useful links:

Mountaineering Ireland

nidirect.gov.uk

Countryside Code in Northern Ireland

Scotland

Updated: 31/08/2021

Most legal restrictions relating to Covid-19 were lifted on the 9th August 2021 when Scotland moved to ‘Beyond Level 0’. This includes travel restrictions within Scotland, physical distancing, and the size of people gatherings.

Whilst these changes will signal the end of most restrictions for sport and physical activity it will not however signal the end of the epidemic. Covid-19 is a disease that will need to be managed for the foreseeable future and to maintain progress in returning to more normality, it is important that people continue to abide by a set of baseline measures covered by Scottish Government guidance and where relevant legislation.

Although restrictions are being eased Scottish Government will retain the option of putting in place local measures and travel restrictions to manage any future virus outbreaks.


‘Give people space’

A number of mitigating measures will remain, including:
  • maintain and promote good ventilation
  • wear face coverings in indoor sport and leisure facilities when not taking part in physical activity
  • keep your distance if you can - ‘give people space’ messaging
  • use good hand and respiratory hygiene and surface cleaning
  • stay at home and book a test if you develop coronavirus symptoms
When a local area is operating ‘Beyond Level 0’ it is recommended that the ‘Give people space’ messaging is promoted by mountain related activity providers and their staff.

Leaders, instructors, coaches and guides, and others supporting organised mountain-related activity should if possible, keep physically distant, but it is recognised that this will not always be possible to ensure the safety of participants. In such circumstances the responsible ‘Covid Officer’ should consider appropriate mitigating actions as part of the risk assessment.


Test & Protect

The Test and Protect system will remain in place to support contact tracing. People who are symptomatic, including close contacts, should self-isolate for 10 days as per NHS Scotland guidance. Close contacts 18 years of age or over who have been double vaccinated for more than 14 days or 5 to 17- year-olds, with no symptoms, will be able to take a PCR test and end self-isolation if the result is negative. IMPORTANT: No one who is self-isolating should attend a sports facility or activity.


MTS COVID-19 Awareness and Mitigation on-line learning resource

Mountain Training Scotland has produced COVID-19 Awareness and Mitigation on-line learning resource. This course is designed to support MTS Providers, Course Directors and Course Staff deliver course within the COVID-19 restrictions. However much of what is covered will be useful for all Leaders, Instructors, Coaches and Guides as they deliver skills courses and guided days in the mountains and on the crags.


Appoint a COVID-19 Officer

All organised mountain-related activity should be overseen by a COVID-19 Officer and all providers of organised mountain-related activity should ensure they have an appointed COVID-19 officer.


Thank You

Mountain Training Scotland would like to thank to you all for your on-going support and sense of social responsibility that has ensured a high level of compliance with the various iterations of guidance.


Useful links:

MTS Guidance, for those (leaders, instructors, coaches and guides) involved in organised and formal led walking, scrambling & climbing (incl. indoor climbing and bouldering) activities in Scotland.

Mountaineering Scotland article - Guidance for hill walkers and climbers in Scotland

Scottish Government: What you can and can't do

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

VisitScotland

Wales

Updated: 21/07/2021

Wales completed the move to Alert Level 1 on Saturday 17th July 2021. Details of the current restrictions still in place can be found here.

In consideration of the move to Alert Level 1, all Mountain Training scheme delivery remains permissible in Wales.

In summary, the following headline restrictions remain in force across Wales:
  • Up to 6 people can meet indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation
  • Organised indoor events for up to 1,000 seated or 200 standing can take place, subject to a risk assessment and taking reasonable measures
  • Ice rinks can re-open
  • Remove the legal restrictions on the number of people who can gather outdoors
  • Allow up to 30 children from organisations, such as the Brownies and Scouts, to attend residential centres over the summer holidays

Furthermore, in Wales, you must:
  • Wear a face covering (if you are able to) in all indoor public places
  • Only form an extended household with no more than 2 other households and they should stay the same
  • Not meet with anyone other than your extended household or a maximum of five other people from different households indoors in your home
  • Not meet with more than five other people in indoor regulated settings, such as cafes, restaurants and pubs (unless you are meeting with only people you live)

You should:
  • Observe social distancing with people you do not live with or who are not in your exclusive extended household
  • Work from home if you can
  • Minimise travel to areas of high prevalence
  • Avoid international travel

Be advised that the removal of restrictions which took place on Monday 19th July in England do not apply in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland .

Useful links:

Covid alert levels information

Current restrictions summary

MTA - Helping keep outdoor activities Covid secure


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