Featured, UIAA

The UIAA Taskforce set up to offer guidance to the climbing community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic held its most recent online meeting on 24 March.

Discussions centred on the subject of vaccination roll outs, the impact of third waves in certain countries and recommendations to the UIAA Management Committee regarding the staging of in-person meetings later this year including October’s General Assembly. Across the world and UIAA membership, the situation is very different ranging from a gradual easing of phased lockdowns in some areas to a return to full lockdowns and curfews in others. With this in mind it is difficult for the UIAA to provide general global advice other than reminding climbers and mountain visitors to respect the rules and regulations published in their specific countries and regions.

Regarding climbing and mountaineering activities, the following regional updates were provided by different member federations:

Belgium, CMBEL (Climbing Mountaineering Belgium)

Indoor sports: Not currently permitted, the exception being some professional competitions. No indoor climbing halls are open and gyms remain closed.

Outdoor sports: Cycling, hiking, walking are permitted. Group activities are restricted to five individuals. Outdoor rock climbing is strictly regulated, registration necessary. Some safety regulations need to be observed (masks, distancing, access travel, no overnight stays in tents, no barbecuing). Huts are closed. No youth camps are being held and climbing school programmes by clubs are on hold. For detailed updates:, and

Germany, DAV (German Alpine Club)

The restrictions with regard to mountaineering and skiing are quite severe. All ski stations are closed. Ski mountaineering is still permitted, skiers are required to respect regulations for social distancing. The number of people who visit the mountains on weekends is extremely high. It is the main escape for people from the stress of working from home. Hotels and restaurants are closed. Tourism within Germany is severely restricted.

All climbing gyms are closed and will not reopen before the end of April or even later. All huts are closed as well. Travelling to some neighbouring countries is restricted to quarantine regulations which define that even for a short trip (a few hours) to Austria, people are obliged quarantine for five days when (re)entering Germany. Considering the above the DAV has decided to recommend that its members should continue to respect lockdown measures and reduce trips to mountain areas.

The DAV Office is working at full capacity and mainly remotely. Mass meetings are not allowed and therefore the next General Assembly will be held as video conference Restrictions on sport activities will be eased very slowly and remain in place for some more months. The forecast for the summer season is still quite optimistic but mountain sports in 2021 will still be subject to significant changes and restrictions compared to the past. Ongoing negotiations are taking place with federal government with regard to compensation for closed huts.

India, IMF (Indian Mountaineering Foundation)

Climbing, hiking, indoor gyms are open and all subject to mandatory Covid-19 regulations. The climbing season in the Himalaya is starting with restrictions in place. No foreign mountaineers are expected.

South America (General Overview)

In Argentina, activities are limited. Mountain huts are open, registration is mandatory and is also in place for visiting some mountain areas. Sport competitions are taking place but subject to Covid rules. In the event that a second wave occurs, it is very likely that borders and activities will close again.

The case of Brazil is more complex. Climbing competitions and sport activities for the first half of the year were suspended in late March.

Like Brazil, the situation in Chile is delicate due to a recent increase in cases. Many activities have been suspended.

South Africa, MCSA (Mountain Club of South Africa)

The situation on the African continent is particularly challenging. The vaccination programme is significantly behind Europe, North America and Asia.

The MCSA continues to work online and remotely with all in-person events and activities all cancelled until further notice.

Switzerland, SAC (Swiss Alpine Club)


  • Leisure, sports and cultural facilities reopened on 1 March.
  • 10 people are allowed to gather indoor (including privately)
  • 15 people are allowed to gather outdoor
  • Ski resorts are open. People have to wear protection masks and keep the distance of 1.5m. Ski resort restaurants are closed.
  • Restaurants are still closed
  • Hotels are still open. Hotel restaurants are open only for the residents
  • All shops reopened on 1 March
  • Home office is still strongly recommended if possible
  • Wear a mask in public transportation and in the car, and of course every time the distance of 1.5m cannot be kept. This is also valid for outdoor activities

Sport activities in general

Outdoor activities are allowed (if without body contact). They are permitted in groups of up to a maximum of 15 people (including the leader). Protection masks must be worn if the distance of 1.5m cannot be kept. No negative test or vaccination is required.

Training and competitions are allowed indoor for young people up to the age of 20 (birth year 2001). Climbing halls must remain closed for people older than 20. Competition for professional and elite sport (incl. international competition) is allowed without spectators.

SAC – Competition

  1. a) Outdoor sport

Competition (ski alpinism) was held without spectators.

  1. b) Indoor competition

For the IFSC World Cup in Meiringen in mid-April a negative PCR Corona test (max 72 hours old) will be requested. No additional rapid tests were requested for the teams, based on the statement of the Health Department of the Canton of Bern, saying that a rapid test after a negative PCR Corona test (max 72 h old) is unnecessary. All other persons involved in the competition who do not have such a test will be tested with a rapid Ag test (throat swab) on site.  These measures are taken in consultation with the medical support team (which included UIAA Medical Commission President Dr Urs Hefti). At the competition itself, the organisers will take temperature measurements and check the state of health as well as the guidelines from the Covid-19 Addendum of the IFSC.

There are no tests at the national competitions. Temperatures are taken and a health protocol and consent form will be filled out. Further guidelines are in place according to the protection concept for national competitions of the SAC.

SAC huts

Huts are open and the revised protection concepts for mountain huts are available on the SAC website. The SAC reminds its members regularly on the importance of the consistent implementation of the protection concepts in the guarded and in the unguarded mountain huts. These safety measures include compulsory reservation (no reservation, no bed), bringing your own sleeping bag, social distancing (1.5m), hand washing, table of max. 4 people, separations between tables and beds, tracing, etc. The hut teams are not allowed to serve meals to day guests due (i.e. like restaurants). They can, however, serve meals to the guest staying in the hut overnight (like hotels). Takeaway is allowed.

SAC – General

All protection concepts (e.g. for huts, for outdoor sports, for indoor sports) and the recommendations for the mountaineers can be found on the dedicated Covid page: (French); (German)

For the moment, office staff continue to work mainly from home.

The SAC hopes to be able to hold its General Assembly mid-June in person. If large gatherings are not permitted in June, the SAC will hold the GA at the beginning of September. If large gatherings are not permitted in September, the GA will be held online.

United Kingdom, British Mountaineering Council (BMC)

Since 29 March, changes to the Covid regulations in England meant some limited relaxation of the current rules around outdoor activity. Below is a summary of the main changes which will affect climbers and hill walkers based on the information available at the time of writing. Government guidance may continue to evolve. The BMC will update this article when new regulations are enforced.


  • All forms of outdoor sport and physical activity (including climbing and walking) have been allowed since 8 March and this continues to be the case from 29 March.
  • Groups of up to six individuals from different households or an unlimited number of people from two households can meet outdoors.
  • No social mixing is allowed indoors, other than for specific listed exceptions.
  • The ‘Stay at Home’ order will be lifted and although the overall message is to ‘stay local’, no legally defined acceptable travel distance within England has been set at this stage.
  • However, travel within England must be limited to day trips, as overnight stays are not permitted at this stage.
  • There are still restrictions on sharing transport in England, but at the time of writing the government guidance has not been updated – click here for more details.

Clubs and organised groups

  • Organised sport and physical activity will be exempt from legal gathering limits outdoors, providing the activity follows overarching Covid guidance from government and from the BMC.
  • This will only apply to groups organised by a club, instructor or National Governing Body.
  • Groups size can be as large as is operationally suitable outdoors and briefings can also take place in unlimited numbers outdoors.
  • There will be no legal travel limits on organised sport and physical activity. As with individuals, travel is limited to day trips as overnight stays are not permitted at this stage.
  • The BMC encourages organised groups to act responsibly and keep group sizes to a minimum wherever possible, as well as minimising travel.
  • There are still restrictions on sharing transport in England, but at the time of writing the government guidance has not been updated – click here for more details.


  • Mountain Training qualification courses have been able to run since 8 March, however from the 29 March instructed groups who are not part of a qualification course will be allowed to re-start under the rules for organised groups outlined above.

Climbing walls

  • Indoor walls are not open yet, but are expected to be able to re-open from Step 2 (earliest 12 April).

Overnight stays

  • Overnight stays away from your primary residence are not permissible (other than for specific listed exceptions). All travel for recreational purposes must be for day trips only.

With thanks to the UIAA CCC Taskforce members from Argentina, Belgium, Germany, India, Nepal, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom who contributed to this article.

The next UIAA Covid-19 Taskforce meeting is scheduled for 27 April.

Further reading: UIAA & Covid-19 Portal