COVID-19

ECOG/BMC guidance for events under COVID-19

As members of ECOG we are all obviously keen to get back to enjoying the outdoors as much as possible and as soon as possible. However, given the current situation it is also clearly important that we do so in as safe a way as possible and in a way that helps all our members to feel as comfortable as they can with the extra risks involved. You will all be aware of Government advice and regulations relating to COVID-19. The BMC have also undertaken risk assessments for hillwalking and climbing and have issued their own guidance. The BMC have now stated that clubs may restart their walking and climbing programmes if they wish. The BMC third party liability insurance will work as normal as long as the event complies with all Govt/BMC guidance. In order for us to run the ECOG programme safely it is the responsibility of all members either attending or leading ECOG events, to ensure that they are familiar with, and following, the relevant current government and BMC guidance (see below).

The risks from Covid19 and the BMC/Govt guidance should be considered in the same way as the BMC participation statement. If you are not comfortable with the risks, or are not prepared to follow the guidance, then please do not take part in ECOG events until the crisis is over. Please note that the primary responsibility for complying with all guidance during an event (including social distancing) lies with the individual attendees. The event leader is not there to act as a COVID-19 rules enforcer!

People intending to lead ECOG events should also note the following points (this applies to all events whether walking, cycling, MTB, climbing or social):

    • Events should be planned and run in accordance with the current local and national government and BMC guidance (see below for links).

    • All events to include a maximum of 6 people including the leader.

    • People must ‘book’ onto the event in advance so that numbers above 6 can be told (by the leader) that they cannot attend because the event is ‘full’.

    • Attendees should be told to meet at the start of the event, not at a car sharing venue such as Macc station.

BMC Guidance

General Advice: A set of guiding principles is useful to remember and apply across all your outdoor activities:

  • Keep 2m apart from anyone outside of your household.

  • Hand hygiene is crucial, but washing hands properly is impractical in the outdoors. Carry and use hand sanitiser after any contact with surfaces or shared equipment.

  • Current World Health Organisation advice on which hand sanitisers kill the Covid-19 virus is that they should contain 80% alcohol to be effective.

  • Avoid popular venues, pinch points and routes which force you close to others.

  • Mountain Rescue capability is hugely reduced/diminished and any response is likely to take longer and with reduced resources compared to normal, not to mention increasing risk of transmission between casualties and team members. See their statement here: https://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/stay-safe-be-adventure-smart/coronavirus-covid-19

  • Whatever you are doing, scale back your ambitions and be fully confident of your physical and technical ability for any objective you embark upon.

  • Carry a separate plastic bag to hold used disposable gloves.

  • Updated government guidance on accessing green spaces safely has now been issued and is worth reading and understanding

Hill walking:

    • Go into the hills understanding you are on your own - operate completely independently if going out with someone outside your household (including attending a group walk)

    • Carefully plan your route: try to anticipate and avoid pinch points where possible. These are likely to be at low levels before entering access land, but will also be focussed around summits, popular viewpoints etc.

    • Avoid pinch points where you can: but where this isn’t possible, work with other users to navigate them whilst keeping 2m apart.

    • Avoid touching access furniture if possible: many gates can be operated using the crook of your elbow, avoiding hand contact entirely. Where this isn’t possible, carry glove to operate gate mechanisms or climb stiles.

    • Think about weather: especially recognising the consequence of bad weather and the problems that will arise in needing to get closer to others to communicate.

    • Don’t be goal oriented: key summits will be busy but does it really matter that you stand on the summit? If a summit is busy when you arrive, perhaps avoid it and enjoy just being out in the uplands instead.

    • Use independent equipment: from others outside your household – don’t share.

    • Map and compass: more than ever, everyone needs their own rather than sharing between a group.

    • Emergency shelters: whilst normally group shelters are excellent and highly recommended, during the Covid-19 pandemic they are not a good idea. Instead, revert to each individual carrying their own emergency shelter unless walking in a household group.

Useful links

Further Information

If you wish to read more about COVID-19 in the outdoor setting please read this article by Professor Ian Hill and the BMC.

Visit these links to learn more about COVID-19 and the NHS recommended hand washing technique.