EASING OF COVID-19 MEASURES. FURTHER UPDATES FROM UIAA MEMBERS
On 28 May, the UIAA created an online form for members to provide updates regarding the Covid-19 situation in their countries and regions. The tool also offered the opportunity for members to address specific topics and concerns.
Members from 37 countries have already contributed to the UIAA Covid-19 portal with updates during the past three months. The below is a summary of recent updates provided by ten UIAA member associations. Specific points raised by members for the UIAA CCC Taskforce will be raised and debated during the next online meeting.
PUBLISHED ON 9 JUNE
Hungary, Hungarian Mountaineering & Sport Climbing Federation
‘During lockdown, Hungarian indoor climbing gyms closed for two months, Hungarian Cup and other climbing competitions postponed, no climbing festivals were organised in this period, and all the education/instructor courses was postponed. To serve its members, our federation published almost weekly updated instructions and suggestions on current situation/ pandemic measures.
The regulations on closure of climbing gyms were strict and straightforward from the Operative Team of Hungarian Government, however the gradual reopening methods and safety measures started lively debates, such as ‘How many climbers can be checked in in the same time?’, ‘should they wear masks?’, ‘how to sterilise climbing surfaces?’. Also restarting of education rose a lot of questions about safe travel, social distancing, optimal instructor/student ratio.
One positive aspect of the pandemic has been online education and training, never previously tested.
So far only members of the Hungarian Climbing Federation or member of UIAA member organisations are allowed to climb in Hungary. Bordercrossing is possible according to current regulations at koronavirus.gov.hu. All climbing gyms have reopened. In terms of gyms, social distancing, limited check in, a maximum duration of climbing for each person, frequent sterilisation of surfaces, in some gyms PPE is compulsory, but not in all.”
Viktor Agoston, Vice President
Portugal, Federação Portuguesa De Montanhismo E Escalada (FPME)
The FPME immediately took the necessary measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. It complied, with all rigor, all the determinations of WHO/DGS. The Plenary Assembly has been postponed and climbing and mountaineering meetings have been suspended as well as all climbing competitions. There were significant impacts, namely on the membership of practitioners, with loss of revenue. It should be noted that our member clubs also suspended all initiatives involving groups of people. Like FPME, they were also affected financially. During the state of emergency decreed by the Portuguese government, FPME suspended all sporting activity and on its website gave updated information – www.fpme.org – on the best procedures to ensure the health and safety of its practitioners and athletes.
In line with the DGS, the FPME made available an important collection of information in the period of progressive lack of definition with regard to mountaineering and sport climbing and indoor climbing practices. All huts and climbing gyms remain closed. Some climbing and mountaineering areas are accessible again. A decrease in membership has already been detected.
Carlos Gomes, President
PUBLISHED ON 2 JUNE
Bangladesh, Bangladesh Mountaineering Federation
‘It has been impossible for those working in the mountains to earn a living as everything is closed. This is a huge concern for our membership. Most programmes for the fiscal year 2019-2020 have stalled. As a federation we haven’t been able to do anything since March. We have helped in the distribution of health protection materials and our charity work has been commended. In terms of cross-border information there is little communication and no protocol in place. All climbing and mountaineering areas remain closed, all gyms are closed.’
Aupar Ahmed, President
Canada/Quebec, Fédération québécoise de la montagne et de l’escalade
‘The sport climbing season has been cancelled and severe limitations placed on outdoor activities. We have set-up a section of our website dedicated to Covid-19: https://fqme.qc.ca/covid-19/. We are currently working on re-opening our courses in accordance with public health guidelines. All huts remain closed, some climbing areas are accessible albeit with restrictions. All non-essential travel is forbidden including cross border. All climbing gyms remain closed.’
Olivier Deslauriers-Gaboury, Director General
Malta, Malta Climbing Club
‘We have had to cancel all activities which means no club meets outdoors, closure of our club climbing wall and also closure of our “Kids Zone” climbing sessions indoors for children. We have continued to work in parallel on projects relating to training certification and environmental permits. We have advised local climbers to respect the guidelines given by the health authorities relating to social distancing, staying at home whenever possible. We are awaiting updated guidelines from the health authorities which would allow groups of people to meet before we can start to organise club activities again. With regard to our climbing wall, as it is considered to be a gym, it is still closed under lockdown rules. The only positive we can take from this is that we have experienced how easy and practical it is to hold committee meetings via videoconference, which means that we’ve met more often than usual. Covid-19 has led to the club losing a lot of revenue due to no income from the wall or kids zone, and also resulted in fewer new memberships. The good news is that outdoor climbing was never stopped in Malta and climbers have been enjoying the routes here throughout the crisis, while maintaining social distancing from other parties.’
Simon Alden, President
‘We have noticed that there have been fewer new member applications and uncertainty about courses and travel programmes, issues related to postponement of competitions and less income from advertising and sponsorship. Our dedicated website for members is: https://nkbv.nl/actueel/corona/. We are currently focusing on the reopening of climbing gyms and seeking clarification about the possibility of climbing this summer in the Alps.’
Robin Baks, Director
Serbia, Mountaineering Association of Serbia
‘All of our activities from 16 March to 1 June have been cancelled. As have many longer-term projects for 2020. Our federation has focused on answering questions from members and putting in place measures to explain in detail each issue related to future activities of clubs and individuals. We are currently managing the redistribution of budget funds due to the reduced income from the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The pandemic has forced us to become more digital and we are working on an online database of activities. We are also focused on becoming part of the International Skyrunning Federation. Some huts in Serbia have reopened. All climbing and mountaineering areas are open as are climbing gyms.’
Iso Planić, President
South Africa, Mountain Club of South Africa
‘There has been a total lockdown in terms of mountain activities except for essential services. All physical meetings have been cancelled replaced by Zoom. Recommendations as per government guidelines have been published to members. The main concerns from our members have been related to when the mountains will be open again. All huts remain closed, some climbing and mountaineering areas are accessible again, climbing gyms are closed. We are interested in learning more about the experience of other countries in opening up.”
Greg Moseley, President
Switzerland, Swiss Alpine Club
The SAC has published the following information about Covid-19:
All events had to be cancelled or postponed (incl. General Assembly, outdoor events, training courses, competitions). The General Assembly of the SAC and the General Assemblies of the sections were postponed to a later date. Regular meetings of the board, of commissions, of working groups, etc. took place by videoconference. Competition events were cancelled or postponed. The communication of our government was very clear and frequent, including on safety measures to be taken. The most common questions concerned mountain huts. They were addressed by information on our website (https://www.sac-cas.ch/de/covid; https://www.sac-cas.ch/fr/covid) and written communication to section presidents, tour guides and hut guardians.
Our federation is currently ensuring proper safety measures (especially social distancing and hygiene) are in place for mountain huts and the re-starting of outdoor activities and training courses. The most important thing we can do is provide clear and homogeneous communication to all people involved (employees, volunteers, competitors, section presidents and board members, mountain hut guardians, etc.). Some huts have reopened – each hut must have a specific protection plan based on the general protection plan developed by the federation. The protection plans includes e.g. social distancing and hygiene/safety measures, keeping track of all people sleeping or eating in the huts. Visitors must book make a reservation before coming to the hut, otherwise they will not be allowed to sleep in the hut. They have to bring their own sleeping bag and pillow cover, disinfection solution and/or soap. Visitors who feel ill must refrain from coming to the hut. If they feel ill in the hut, they have to inform the guardian immediately.
All climbing and mountaineering areas have reopened. All climbing gyms have reopened. Covid-19 protection plans were developed for climbers by the SAC and for the climbing gyms by the association of climbing gyms. Also here, the protection plans include the safety measures imposed by the government (incl. e.g. social distancing, hygiene/safety measures, etc.). Climbing gyms and climbers must respect these protection plans.
The borders to all European countries will re-open on 15 June. Information in English on the situation in Switzerland on the website of the Federal Office of Public Health:
Françoise Jaquet, President
Turkey, Turkish Mountaineering Federation
‘The lockdown impacted people under 20 and older than 65. There has been a more comprehensive secondary lockdown during weekends and a travel ban between big cities. Our training programmes have stopped and some replaced by online sessions. We have published some guidelines, produced by mountaineers, that includes information on restrictions during Covid-19. All huts remain closed. Access to climbing and mountaineering areas is discouraged by our federation. Travelling by plane, bus and train is restricted. If granted permission one can travel by personal vehicles. Cross-border travel is closed. All climbing gyms remain closed.’
Erhan Alemdar, Medical Commission member
Please refer to the UIAA Covid-19 website page for information submitted from over 50 UIAA members in 40 countries.