Coronavirus

As the new year brings tighter coronavirus regulations both within and between nations, we’re committed to enabling our courses to recommence as soon as possible. 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: 26/03/2021

The latest government guidance is available here. This guidance states; ‘Pupils and students in all schools and Further Education settings will be able to return to face-to-face education’ in England from the 8th March 2021.

As we consider the Mountain Training pathway and courses to fit within the definition of education, Mountain Training England feel course delivery is permissible in England from the 8th March subject to appropriate mitigation.

Please remain mindful infection rates are still extremely high. Mountain Training candidates should remain considerate to others and reduce risk to a minimum, for example, by staying local where possible. Please also bear in mind other legislative restrictions are likely to impact on course attendance (e.g. accommodation). If further guidance is required on instruction please refer to your association

If further guidance is required regarding wider participation in England, please refer to the BMC.

Useful links:

MTA - Helping keep outdoor activities Covid secure

BMC article: What will change from 29th March in England?

Countryside Code in England

Ireland

Updated: 24/02/2021

The Republic of Ireland is currently at Level 5 and will remain there until at least 5th April. Level 5 restrictions include the following:
  • people must stay at home and work from home unless providing essential services (as defined by the Government)
  • people are permitted to exercise within 5km of their home, with a penalty for movement outside 5km of home
  • it is possible to meet with one other household in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden, such as a park, for exercise
  • there should be no organised indoor or outdoor events
These restrictions make Mountain Training course delivery unworkable while Ireland is at Level 5, except where providers operating within an education service as defined by the Irish Government.

Useful links:

Mountaineering Ireland latest

Irish Government - A guide to Level 5

Mountaineering Ireland Good Practice Guide

Northern Ireland

Updated: 24/02/2021

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions were introduced for people in Northern Ireland on 26 December 2020. The regulations will remain in place until 1st April with a review scheduled for 18th March.
  • Work associated with education can happen.
  • Avoid all unnecessary travel, walls/gyms closed.
  • Only individual or household outdoor exercise is permitted.
  • Physical activity such as walking, running, cycling, horse riding, or just walking the dog, bring many health benefits.
  • You cannot participate in personal one-to-one training sessions or group activities such as running or cycling.
  • Physical education delivered by or for schools, pre-schools and other education providers is permitted to continue.


All previous protocols relating to social distancing, hand sanitizing and wearing masks in enclosed spaces remain in place.

Useful links:

Mountaineering Ireland latest

Northern Ireland Executive - regulations and what they mean for you

Countryside Code in Northern Ireland

Scotland

Updated: 17/03/2021

Scotland Level 4 ‘Stay at Home’ guidance for organised mountain-related activity remains in place, with limited easing of related restrictions

On the 16/3/2021 the First Minister following on from her update on COVID-19 and changes to the current Level 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions and associated guidance on the 9/3/2021, set out a timetable for the re-opening of parts of society over the next two months.

https://www.gov.scot/news/timetable-for-further-lockdown-easing/

The key points and context for the easings in current Level 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions are:
  • ScotGov priorities for the next few weeks are focussed on children’s education – so scope to make further changes will be limited while they are still rolling out the vaccine.
Level 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions are still in force until 2nd April 2021 and we are being asked to please stay as close to home as possible.

The key changes relevant to organised outdoor mountain-related activity, including Mountain Training courses run by leaders, instructors, coaches and guides (hereafter referred to as ‘leader/s’) sector are:

Travel guidance for mountain-related activity providers and staff; participants

  • Essential travel for work within the context of this guidance covers those staff (instructor, leader, coach or guide) travelling to deliver qualification (including Mountain Training qualifications), personal skills training, or CPD type events within Level 0-4 areas.
  • Providers/staff may also travel into or out of all areas, including Level 3 and 4 areas, to deliver qualifications and formally organised mountain-related activity.
  • Adults living in a Level 3 or Level 4 area should only travel locally (within their own local authority area) to take part in organised outdoor mountain-related activity.
  • MTS Temporary Mountain Training Scheme adaptations are still in effect.
Please be aware that in the unlikely event of being stopped by or contacted by Police Scotland you may be asked to produce evidence as to why you deem your journey essential.

Travel into and out of Scotland

Currently non-essential travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK and the wider Common Travel Area (CTA) (i.e. the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) is prohibited as a measure to reduce the risk of importation of the virus.

Ratios and ‘sporting bubbles’

  • Providers/Leaders can run organised outdoor non-contact mountain-related activity in protection Level 4 for a maximum of 15 people aged 12 years or over (including the leader/s).
  • Physical distancing should always be maintained. Note: this means no ‘field of play’/close contact.
  • An outdoor sporting ‘field of play bubble’ for young people and adults at Level 4 can consist of up to 15 people, including leaders, at any one time. Physical distancing should always be maintained.
  • No overnights, including camping, snowholing etc.
The updated MTS CV 19 Guidance document (see below) has the full detail regarding CV19 Guidance for those involved in providing/running organised outdoor mountain-related activity in Scotland.

Scottish Government Indicative dates/timeline and impact on organised mountain-related activity

The updated Scottish Government Strategic Framework has been published and can be found at this link: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-timetable-for-easing-restrictions/

The key relevant indicative dates, timeline and associated implications for the organised mountain-related activity sector are as follows:

2 April: Protection level 4

  • Stay at home measures become stay local - travel within local authority for a non-essential purpose. NOTE: this does not change the travel restrictions inherent within level 4 i.e. staying within your local authority level except for essential purposes.

5 April

Outdoor contact sports for 12-17 year olds resume. Note: This means that ‘field of play’/close contact guidance will apply for organised outdoor mountain-related activity for 12-17 year olds only.

26 April: Return to Strategic (levels) Framework: Indicative move from Protection level 4 to level 3

  • Travel within mainland Scotland allowed.
  • Tourist accommodation can open with restrictions in place. Note: if not before this may allow camping overnights to be undertaken, albeit with appropriate covid safety measures in place e.g. single person occupancy.

17 May: What next?

  • Outdoor adult contact sport. Note: this will allow ‘field of play’/close contact guidance to come into effect; group activity in climbing walls may be possible subject to restrictions.
Indicative dates are conditional on supportive data – the key data being infection rates.


Organised and formal led mountain-related activity

The key changes noted above still restrict travel to locally within a local authority area, and no overnight stays.

The combination of travel restrictions and no overnight stays mean very limited scope for Mountain Training qualification courses (including Winter ML and Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor) training or assessment to be delivered in Scotland. Any such viable activity would depend on ALL course participants residing locally to the course venue(s).

1:1 Re-assessments can still be undertaken provided candidates reside in the same local authority area as the assessor undertaking the re-assessment.

We as individuals and organisations, have all been asked to act in ways, since 17 March 2020, that will aid the safety of ourselves and others, by suppressing the spread of the epidemic as much as possible.

We acknowledge that the disruption and cancellation of Mountain Training qualification courses – especially Winter Mountain Leader courses – and the impact on the provision of organised mountain-related activity by activity providers continue to have a huge impact on participants and providers alike. We fully understand and appreciate the financial, social and community impact these ongoing restrictions are having.

We will keep you updated with more information and will be doing everything within our power to support the professional mountaineering community.

Accommodation

All mountain-related activity providers, staff, and participants (including Mountain Training Scotland Providers, staff, and candidates) should be aware that under Level 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions overnight stays are restricted in Scotland and all holiday accommodation is closed to tourism.

Accommodation providers have been advised that when providing accommodation to workers, this should only be open for essential workers who require accommodation as part of their role.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-workers-accomodation/

MTS General advice to providers, staff and participants in mountain-related activity

Whilst we are at the beginning of a slow transition out of lockdown this is still a very uncertain and evolving situation.

Enforcing the guidelines and rules, especially on 'essential travel' is not the responsibility of Mountain Training Scotland.

All those seeking to be involved in undertaking organised mountain-related activity – please check the Scottish Government website for updates before making plans.

https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

For mountain-related personal activity advice please see the Mountaineering Scotland guidance.

Following the above MTS guidance, and what you choose to do within it, involves making judgements and decisions that only you, as an outdoor professional can make. These will involve many factors including your own sense of social, personal, and professional responsibility. There are other factors that may impact on your decision making, which include but are not limited to access and car parking may be busy, mindful of the sentiments of rural and remote communities and those living and working in the countryside.

When planning your activity stay well within your limits and minimise the risks to yourselves and others. For Scottish Mountain Rescue teams COVID-19 has an impact on their ability to respond to an incident quickly and efficiently. With regards casualty management r, COVID is not a risk they can effectively manage on winter rescues due to limitations with the PPE currently used.

https://www.scottishmountainrescue.org/covid-19-information/

Finally, if making such decisions seems complicated and leads only to uncertainty and doubt in your mind, then Mountain Training Scotland advice is to please stay at home and make best use of whatever options for organised mountain-related activity are within your local area.

Our hope and expectations are that this transition out of lockdown, with our support will enable a return to being able to deliver and participate in organised mountain-related activity by the spring.

#ThinkWINTER


Guidance for formal led activity:

Useful links:

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

Scottish Government: What you can and can't do

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Wales

Updated: 29/03/2021

On Saturday 27th March, the Welsh Government lifted the ‘Stay Local’ restrictions in force in Wales. This is a significant step forward as Wales transitions down to Alert Level 3. People living in Wales are now permitted to travel throughout the country. However, unless one has a reasonable excuse such as work or accessing education, travel into and out of Wales is still not permitted.

Further easements, including cross border travel, have been indicated by the Welsh Government over the coming weeks. As and when these changes are implemented, this page will be updated accordingly.

Mountain Training course attendance

Mountain Training course delivery in Wales is now permissible for the purposes of work and education, as defined in Welsh Government legislation. Candidates living outside of Wales will only be able to book accommodation in Wales if participation in the course is for work. For candidates to whom this may apply, the following guidance is important to consider:
  • It is the providers responsibility to ensure that candidates, who are participating in training or assessment for work reasons, can provide information supporting this, if required.
  • Should the candidate be stopped by Police they may be required to provide additional supporting information, confirming their reasons for travel and participation on a course.
  • Should the Police, or an Inspector from the Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department choose to contact the provider before, during or after the course, they may be required to provide additional supporting information providing justification for candidate travel and attendance.
  • If a candidate requires accommodation in the area, supporting evidence may be requested by the accommodation provider, prior to booking, to confirm the candidate’s work.
Please be mindful that The Welsh Government’s message, underpinning the recent changes, remains the same; “Even when things are permitted, we ask you to think carefully about what is the most sensible thing for you to do to protect your family, friends and your community, rather than thinking about what the law allows you to do”.

Useful links:

Welsh Government coronavirus homepage

Summary of restrictions from 27th March 2021

Welsh Government FAQs - updated 27th March 2021

BMC Article - Wales lockdown easing

Countryside Code in Wales

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