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: 17/05/2021

The latest government guidance is available here. As outlined within, subject to appropriate mitigation;
  • All holiday accommodation can open, including hotels, campsites and B&Bs
  • Indoor leisure and sports facilities are open for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble
Individuals can now therefore stay away from home to attend courses for educational or recreational reasons in England. Commercial climbing walls are more accessible and allow course delivery.

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.

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: 20/05/2021

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

From 10th May
  • Inter county travel has resumed.
  • 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.

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

From 7th June (subject to the public health situation at the time) Climbing walls can open for individual training only. Group indoor training to be reviewed at the end of June.

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: 20/05/2021

The UK government lockdown restrictions allow travel within Northern Ireland and up to 10 people from 2 different households to meet in Northern Ireland, (see, Northern Ireland for further guidance.

Northern Ireland.
  • Travel in Northern Ireland permitted. Until 24th May you should not travel in or out of Northern Ireland except where it is essential to do so.
  • 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 for 1 to 1 coaching. 24th May set to reopen for indoor group exercise.

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: 24/05/2021

From 21 May, mainland Scotland and some islands (Skye and some southern islands) will remain at Level 2.
The three island local authorities, the Highland islands (other than Skye), and some Argyll islands are at Level 1.
Glasgow will remain at Level 3.
‘Close contact’ activity/’field of play’ now permitted for over 18s participating in organised outdoor mountain-related activity in local authority areas in Level 0-2 only.

Travel to or from a Level 3 area to attend a Mountain Training qualification course (training or assessment) is covered as a reasonable excuse under ‘education and training’. Otherwise adults living in a Level 3 area should only travel locally or to another Level 3 area to take part in organised outdoor mountain-related activity.[/b]


Travelling safely

Participants aged 17 years or under can travel to and from Level 0, 1, 2 and 3 areas to take part in organised outdoor mountain-related activity.

Participants aged 18 years or over can travel to and from Level 0, 1 and 2 areas (but not Level 3 or 4) to take part in organised outdoor mountain-related activity .

Adults living in a Level 3 area should only travel locally or to another Level 3 area to take part in organised outdoor mountain-related activity. NOTE: Please see exception below for attending Mountain Training qualification courses.

The regulations permit travel to or from a Level 3 area if you have a reasonable excuse. They also let you travel through a Level 3 area to somewhere else. In doing so you should take additional care, especially if travelling by public transport and minimise contact with others.

Travel to or from a Level 3 area to attend a Mountain Training qualification course (training or assessment) is covered as a reasonable excuse under ‘education and training’.


Ratios, and ‘sporting bubbles’

  • Providers/Leaders can run organised outdoor contact and non-contact mountain-related activity in protection Level 3 for a maximum of 30 people aged 12 -17 years (including the leader/s). Note: indoor climbing facilities are open, but the bubble size relates to outdoor, indoor bubble size depend on the facility m3 and ventilation capacity - please check with your local wall before visiting.
  • Adults can take part in non-contact outdoor organised mountain-related activity in protection Level 3 including training, assessment, CPD and group exercise. An outdoor sporting ‘bubble’ for adults can consist of up to 30 people, including leaders at any one time. Note: contact sport i.e. ‘field of play’ is still prohibited in Level 3 areas.
  • Adults can take part in non-contact indoor organised mountain-related activity in protection Level 3 as indoor climbing facilities are open and 1 to 1 Coaching based on the 2 household rule with the instructor/coach being 1 household permitted BUT please check with your local wall before visiting.
  • Providers/Leaders can run organised outdoor contact (‘field of play’ permitted) outdoor mountain-related activity in protection Level 2 areas for a maximum of 50 people (not including the leader/s) for u18 years and 18+ years.
  • Providers/Leaders can run organised indoor non-contact mountain-related activity in protection Level 2 areas for u18 years and 18+ years. This webpage from ClimbScotland details which climbing walls are open in Scotland and their booking arrangements and customer information BUT please check with the wall regarding your plans prior to turning up with your course.
  • Where there are multiple bubbles operating at the same venue these must be risk assessed to ensure there can be no mixing of participants before, during or after the activity. Specific mitigations could include staggered start times, limiting car parking or controlling access / egress points.
  • Overnight trips allowed. Note: ‘Wild camping’ is allowed in line with social mixing limits and Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC); Tourist accommodation open but must follow in-house socialising rules.
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 timetable for easing restrictions 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 are as follows:

7 June Scotland moves to Level 1

28 June All of Scotland will move to Level 0

Indicative dates are conditional on supportive data – the key data being infection rates.


Organised and Formal Led Mountain-Related Activity

The combination of travel restrictions being lifted and overnight stays permitted mean there is scope for viable organised outdoor organised mountain-related activity, including Mountain Training course activity to be delivered in Scotland subject to local protection level restrictions and associated guidance.

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. Thank you for everything you have done to keep yourselves safe but also to help keep other people safe as well.

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


Accommodation including ‘Wild Camping’

All organised mountain-related activity providers, staff, and participants (including Mountain Training Scotland Providers, staff, and candidates) should be aware that under Level 2, over-night stays are permitted, and all holiday accommodation is open to tourism but must follow in-house socialising rules.

‘Wild camping’ is allowed in line with social mixing limits and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC).


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

Whilst we are moving ahead with the slow transition out of lockdown this is still a very uncertain and evolving situation.

Enforcing the guidelines and rules 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, 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 both personal and organised mountain-related activity are easily and safely accessible within your local area.

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


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: 27/04/2021

As of Monday 12th April, travel into and out of Wales is, once again, permissible. This ensures that candidates, travelling from elsewhere in the UK, are free to do so without the need to fit within the definition of a reasonable excuse. Therefore, making it possible for many courses to run with caution and consideration. Wales is presently in Alert Level 3.

Mountain Training course attendance

Please check the Welsh Government’s FAQ’s for information specific to travel.

Self-contained accommodation is open, but shared accommodation and many campsites remain closed. You can find out more details here. This may lead to candidates experiencing difficulties in arranging accommodation. The Welsh Government has indicated that all remaining holiday accommodation will be permitted to open once the transition from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 is complete. For information on the revised (March 2021) Alert Levels, see here.

As you will all know, a number of restriction relaxations have been brought forward. This is welcome news and indicates that indoor climbing facilities will be permitted to open on Monday 3rd May. This is specifically for the purposes of individual exercise and not organised group activity. The next review cycle on Thursday 22nd April will hopefully indicate when indoor organised activity can resume.

Useful links:

Welsh Government coronavirus homepage

Summary of restrictions from 12th April 2021

Welsh Government FAQs - updated 12th April 2021

BMC Article - Wales lockdown easing

Countryside Code in Wales

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