Coronavirus

As the autumn and winter bring more variation in coronavirus regulations both within and between nations, we’re committed to enabling our courses to continue wherever 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. Where course delivery and/or candidate attendance specifically falls outside the restrictions of any temporary legislation or guidance, our providers are doing an excellent and challenging job of communicating with customers about their bookings. Where the legislation or guidance is less clear, we will do our utmost to support our providers to deliver courses on the basis that our courses are educational, many people undertake them as part of their work and our providers are highly experienced risk managers.

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

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

England

Updated: 19/10/2020

All Mountain Training leadership and skill schemes are currently being delivered in England, in line with UK Government guidance, subject to appropriate mitigation measures. Both indoor and outdoor environments are accessible for course delivery. Climbing walls can open although some require advanced booking and some remain closed.

Government guidance currently states that in England: "When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should: meet in groups of 6 or less, meet people outdoors where practical”. It also states “Where a group includes someone covered by such an exception (for example, someone who is working), they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a leader can manage a group of six without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.”

The law around the ‘rule of 6’ concerns gathering for social reasons. However, ‘Section 2’ outlines exceptions which include:
• registered childcare, education or training
• organised outdoor sport or licensed outdoor physical activity, and supervised sporting activity (indoors or outdoors) for under-18s
• supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities
• elite sporting competition and training

Mountain Training delivery fits within the exclusion; for the purposes of ‘education or training’.

Despite the present accessibility of Mountain Training courses in England candidates can be assured safety continues to be our highest priority. Courses will be delivered in a legal manner and risk will be reduced to a minimum through effective mitigation strategies. Candidates should ensure they are up to date with rules imposed by the area that they live in and abide by them. Find out more here.

MTA - Helping keep outdoor activities Covid secure

Useful links:

BMC article - Coronavirus update - The new rule of 6

BMC article - Coronavirus and hill walking: your questions answered

BMC article - Coronavirus and Climbing Walls: Q&A with Professor Ian Hall

BMC article - Restarting club meets



Countryside Code in England

Ireland

Updated: 21/10/2020

The Republic of Ireland Government has announced that as of midnight on Wednesday 21st October, the country will be placed on Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID. Level 5 restrictions will remain in place for a period of 6 weeks. Level 5 restrictions relevant to Mountain Training course delivery are as follows:
  • 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, including for exercise
  • there should be no organised indoor or outdoor events
These restrictions make Mountain Training course delivery unworkable while Ireland is on Level 5, except where providers operating within an education service as defined by the Irish Government.

Useful links:

Mountaineering Ireland latest

Irish Government - Coronavirus latest

Mountaineering Ireland Good Practice Guide

Northern Ireland

Updated: 21/10/2020

The Northern Ireland Executive updated the regulations on 16th October. Mountain Training courses can still take place in Northern Ireland, in line with appropriate Northern Ireland Executive/UK Government guidance. Social distancing remains in place at 2m. The relevant regulations, as they apply to Mountain Training courses include:
  • Outdoor gatherings: Up to 15 people can meet outdoors, but you should maintain social distancing by being at least two metres apart, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.
  • No unnecessary travel.
  • Spending time outdoors is good for your physical and mental health. You can travel for recreational purposes to outdoor open spaces such as a parks, forest parks and outdoor attractions.


Useful links:

Mountaineering Ireland latest

Northern Ireland Executive - regulations and what they mean for you

Countryside Code in Northern Ireland

Scotland

Updated: 21/10/2020

In Scotland there are various local measures already in place mainly in the western part of central Scotland. The First Minister of Scotland announced on Wednesday 7th October, further measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). These measures are a mixture of national and regional in scope and will be in place from 1am Saturday 10th October and will remain in place until a new multi-tier system of virus alert levels similar to that in England is implemented from 2 November. At that point this guidance will be updated.

The primary measures impacting on mountain-related activity are regional in their reach, covering the following NHS Health Boards and associated local authorities;
  • NHS Ayrshire & Arran (North, South and East Ayrshire local authority areas),
  • NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (Glasgow, East and West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, and Inverclyde local authority areas),
  • NHS Lanarkshire (North and South Lanarkshire local authority areas),
  • NHS Forth Valley (Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Falkirk local authority areas)
  • NHS Lothian (Edinburgh, East, West and Mid-Lothian local authority areas).
Details of local restrictions are available HERE

Mountain related activity providers are as committed to the safe return of organised mountain-related activity as MTS. However, recent figures serve as a timely reminder that the virus has not gone away, and we understand the very difficult decisions taken by Scottish Government as it continues to deal with what is a public health emergency. Whilst we all share the view that the introduction of further restrictions is disappointing, now more than ever, it is vital that we all do what we can to help suppress the spread of the virus and to protect the NHS.

To reiterate safe provision of organised mountain-related activity can be undertaken, providing those candidates from any health board area with local restrictions who are attending had previously arranged (i.e. have booked onto the event prior to 9/10/20) to attend a course and that all activity is consistent with current Scottish Government guidance on health, physical distancing and hygiene.

Providers of activity will also need to make sure that your business/organisation, facility and participants are made aware and can adapt to changes in guidance at short notice. Information on Scottish Governments approach to managing COVID-19 is available at Scottish Government: Coronavirus in Scotland.

As from the 9th October 2020 the following MTS guidance relating to course provision in the PDF below should be implemented. The updated guidance supersedes all previous relevant guidance.

IMPORTANT

All organised activity should be overseen by a COVID-19 Officer and all Providers should ensure they have an appointed COVID-19 officer whose role it to ensure all appropriate management processes are in place so that they can effectively oversee and maintain the implementation of measures outlined herein. An e-learning module for COVID officers is available at HERE.

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: 22/10/2020

On Monday 19th October the First Minister announced that a two week ‘fire break’ will begin at 6pm on Friday 23rd October until Monday 9th November to help regain control of coronavirus in Wales. The headline regulations are as follows:
  • people must stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  • people must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with
  • certain businesses and venues, including bars, restaurants and most shops must close
  • secondary schools will provide learning online only for the week after half-term, other than for children in years seven and eight. Primary schools and childcare settings will remain open.
  • face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), including on public transport and in taxis
There are therefore an extremely limited set of circumstances in which Mountain Training course delivery would be permitted and it is unlikely that any courses will go ahead during this lockdown.

The spirit of the Welsh Government’s plans is expressed in the following way on their FAQ page: ‘Even where something may be allowed, we ask you not to think about whether it is permitted but whether it is truly necessary and sensible. The purpose of this short lockdown is to create a concerted national effort to do everything we can to stop the spread of coronavirus, and every individual contribution to that counts’.

We fully appreciate that this news will be extremely disappointing for many of you as the October half term week in Wales is often a very popular time of the year for training and assessment courses.

As information becomes available about the situation after the national lockdown, we will review it and update this page accordingly.

Useful links:

Welsh Government firebreak FAQs

What does Wales lockdown Part 2 mean for you? - BMC article

Countryside Code in Wales

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