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The British Divers Safety Group held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday 12 May 2020. A number of medical professionals and non-diving agencies attended, including SITA, the RNLI and the HSE, along with the diver training organisations.
The purpose of the meeting was to determine how the latest changes in government guidance may apply to the UK recreational and technical diving community.
The consensus of the meeting was that the infrastructure to safely support diving activity is still lacking and requires more time to re-establish itself.
Contamination risks remain too high during the preparation for diving and could put undue pressure on businesses who must operate safely and within the law. More importantly, should emergency support be necessary, this would place an unacceptably high burden on rescue services and medical treatment facilities at a time when they are already stretched.
There is an unforeseen potential impact on the RNLI. Should an asymptomatic diver (who carrying the virus, but not suffering from it) need rescuing, and one or a number of the RNLI crew then catch the coronavirus, the whole life boat station will have to be quarantined.
Consequently, the view of all concerned was that whilst the BDSG respect everyone’s desire to return to diving activities as soon as possible, it is too early to restart diving in the UK. We should be considerate of the impact any activity could have until such a time when the supporting infrastructure can safely operate at full capacity and in line with government guidance.
With regret, we must encourage divers to act responsibly and not go diving, however safe it may seem to do so. We will continue to work together to provide suitable guidance to support a planned return to safe diving as and when the time is right.
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