COVID-19 advice

Summary - Autumn 2021

General principles

With improvement in the general outlook for the Covid pandemic and the relaxation in government Covid regulations, the club is looking forward to making a return to normal club activities in as safe a way as we can. However, there is still a need for caution with some residual uncertainty, and the potential for deterioration, so it is worthwhile outlining some general principles regarding return to club activities.

  • International travel remains uncertain and quarantine rules can still change at short notice. Local restrictions still remain possible if there is a local spike in cases. Members should ensure that they have adequate health insurance covering Covid 19 for international travel and be aware of the limits to their cancellation cover for Covid 19.
  • ESC club activities should fully comply with official travel and health guidance of the relevant country and responsible bodies. Members should familiarise themselves with the relevant up-to-date guidance before joining a club activity and be prepared to comply with requirements. In the UK we have largely moved away from legislative restrictions to personal responsibilities, though for international travel and within many European countries a “Covid Pass” (proving vaccination or natural immunity through infection or spot testing) is required for travel and social gathering (e.g. staying in huts).
  • Members are asked to make their own personal risk assessments, and to decide what is safe for them. However, as a club we meet in groups not as individuals and we should remain mindful of our shared values and responsibilities of respect, safety and teamwork. Members are encouraged to adopt sensible mitigation measures (e.g.  mask wearing in enclosed spaces, ventilation, hand washing etc) for the benefit of others and to respect the concerns of fellow members, and members of the public.
  • Members are asked to monitor their own health carefully before joining a club activity (face to face event, club meet or tour). Members without any symptoms may wish to avail of the widespread availability of lateral flow tests to screen themselves for asymptomatic carriage before club events. Of course, a member with any relevant symptoms should get a PCR test and await the result before joining a club activity.Members are asked to fully comply with the relevant national guidance on testing and isolation.
  • The club itself does not seek to mandate for Covid vaccination as a requirement for participation in club activities. Where there is no formal Covid Pass requirement but where several members express a preference on Covid Pass status (e.g., regarding shared dormitory accommodation on a UK meet), then the event organiser will seek to facilitate this. Any member who has a concern about Covid safety is encouraged to discuss with the event organiser, meet or tour leader in the first instance.
  • The tour leader is responsible for selecting a group that is competent, capable and compatible for the proposed tour. Getting Covid 19 on tour could have significant health, logistical and financial implications for members of a touring party, and the tour or meet leader, in consultation with the group, may justifiably decide that the additional protection of full Covid vaccination or natural immunity through infection is a requirement for their tour or meet. The club is entirely supportive of such safety decisions.

(These principles were developed by the club Covid Working Group; discussed at Leaders Meet and approved at October 2021 Committee meeting.)

This page attempts to gather general travel and mountain sport specific advice during this COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Although we are hopefully looking at an improving forecast for ski touring this winter, there is still a need for caution and the potential for the situation to change.
  • International travel is now re-established, and more certain, though national, and local rules might in the worst-case scenario change at short notice, if there are significant winter spikes in cases.
  • Some combination of social distancing, wearing of face masks, use of hand gel, etc is still necessary in many countries. Mountain huts have reopened and are variably taking measures to ensure social distancing.
  • Each country is approaching things a bit differently (even within the UK). In the UK we have largely moved away from legislative restrictions to personal responsibilities, though for international travel and within many European countries a “Covid Pass” (proving vaccination or natural immunity through infection or spot testing) is required for travel and social gathering (e.g. staying in huts).
  • Being flexible and adaptable is still important.

 

Key things to consider

Before a tour:

  • assess your own risk tolerance to COVID-19
  • be aware what your insurance does and doesn’t cover
  • it’s your decision whether to go on a ski tour or not
  • be aware that local restrictions may change
  • be aware that the tour may need to be cancelled or substantially rearranged
  • remember to read and sign the participation statements in the tour application forms

During a tour:

  • follow local guidance in the country you are visiting
  • be flexible
  • monitor your own health and think about the team

 

Resources

Official guidance on health risks and symptoms

By this stage members are overly familiar with official guidance on COVID-19. However, guidance might change over time, so keep an eye on official statements and advice from the UK Government (and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments if you live in these countries). A useful source of information is:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-COVID-19/

Further information on making your own health risk assessment for travel can be found at:

https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/93/COVID-19-risk-assessment

Meets in Scotland

There are some differences between the detailed guidance in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. If you are attending a meet in Scotland, you should follow: --

International Travel

Do check the UK country specific advice on travel through the FCO – this is particularly important for your insurance. This is where to find FCO advice:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

A key challenge is keeping up to date with the latest on travel restrictions and quarantine arrangements. The European Commission’s Re-open EU web platform contains real-time information on travel restrictions and quarantine arrangements for travel between member states, including Switzerland. Select a country to check country specific guidance and requirements.

For Canada, details of Covid 19 requirements and exemptions can be found at https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/exemptions

Following the exit of the UK from the EU 31/12/20, freedom of travel has changed in all the member states but also in other countries which adopt the Schengen agreement, such as Norway, Switzerland etc. See Insurance webpage for further information and links.

Advice from local mountaineering organisations

In addition to national health and travel guidance, many national mountaineering associations have specific requirements and useful guidance. Please keep up to date with the advice for countries that you plan to visit this coming winter. Here are some links to advice from alpine clubs and similar organisations (note that you will need to use something like Google Translate or equivalent for some):

Austria (https://aacuk.org.uk) (also https://www.austria.info/en/service-and-facts/coronavirus-information)

France (https://www.ffcam.fr/COVID-19-ffcam.html)

Italy (https://www.cai.it/COVID-19/)

Norway (https://www.dnt.no/COVID-19-english/)

Scotland (https://www.mountaineering.scot/coronavirus)

Spain (http://www.fedme.es/index.php?mmod=staticContent&IDf=594)

Switzerland (https://www.sac-cas.ch/fr/covid/)

Canada -(https://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/web/ACCMember/About/ACC_coronavirus_information.aspx)