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Cave huts / hostel guidance


Hostel guidance has changed as of 23 oct

Particularly with reference to numbers in bunkrooms


2.1.2 Hostels

Fuller considerations for hostel operators are set out by UKHospitality guidance, but particular consideration should be given to ensuring that hostels operate within the current government guidance on social mixing outside of household groups. In Local COVID alert level: medium areas, accommodation providers following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can provide accommodation for a group of 6 people from different households to stay together. No one should stay in a group of greater than 6 (unless from the same household or support bubble). In Local COVID alert level: high or very high areas, groups must only be made up of single household/support bubbles. Those that exceed these restrictions may be breaking the law, unless relevant exemptions (e.g. work gatherings) apply. Particular consideration should be given to:

Taking measures to make reception areas safer, with increased cleaning, keeping the activity time as short as possible and considering the addition of screens between guests and staff.

Considering minimising lift usage from reception, and providing clear signage for new lift rules.

Closing dormitory rooms to groups of over 6 people (except where housing parties from the same household or support bubble).

Closing shared facilities:

? communal kitchens, where guests prepare their own food
? other communal areas (e.g. TV rooms) where social distancing can?t be managed within current government guidelines.

Taking all possible steps to reduce the risk of transmission in shared shower, changing, and toilet facilities including:

? Either shutting shared shower facilities or assigning them to one household group or support bubble, (i.e. making them private), or running a reservation and clean process (whereby one household can exclusively book the shared facilities for a fixed time, and the facilities are cleaned thoroughly between reservations).
? Where toilets are shared, setting clear use and cleaning guidance to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
? Introducing enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day, with particular regard to any shared facilities, considering the increased risk these entail - as set out in Section 5.3.
? Making information available to guests on the increased risk of using these facilities.
? Where possible increasing safe ventilation.

Ensuring that housekeeping staff follow government handwashing guidelines, and making a checklist of all hand contact services to be cleaned when each guest vacates.

Encouraging guests to wear coverings on communal corridors.

Ensuring that any bar or dining area is only opened in a way compliant with UK government guidance on the hospitality sector.

From 15 August 2020 guidance that receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnerships should not take place will no longer apply. Receptions and celebrations may take place in the form of a sit-down meal, but only where they can be done in a COVID-19 secure environment/venue, and we advise there should be no more than 30 people attending. See further guidance on wedding and civil partnerships receptions and celebrations.

For guidance on live performances, including singing in choirs and playing wind instruments, please refer to the Performing Arts guidance.

Interesting, although having to keep shared kitchen facilities closed, hampers use of club accommodation and it is only applicable in a tier 1 area (I guess most are?). However, some camping cooking gear outside may be a way of dealing with that but having stood for a couple of hours in the pouring rain in Horton-in-Ribblesdale fettling our GG winch this morning, weather conditions might dampen that idea!

Jenny P

When the guidance says
Closing shared facilities:

? communal kitchens, where guests prepare their own food

This presumably means where you have more than one group sharing the same building and some of the facilities are shared. 

Provided you only have one "approved group"of not more than 6 people, i.e. a single family household or a support bubble, staying in the building at any one time surely this would not apply. 

So I believe club accommodation can still be used, provided that the use is limited to only one such group at a time, that the group is scrupulous about cleaning before they leave and also that a 72-hour closed period is maintained between different groups visiting.

It does severely limit the use of Club accommodation but, provided the building is not in an area which imposes extra restrictions and provided that the group using it is not from an area which limits travel beyond its borders, it should still be possible for Club Huts to be used by their members.  It does imply that the Club must have some kind of booking system and also that it maintains adequate records of who has stayed and when.

This appears to be confirmed by the other piece of guidance:
"... or running a reservation and clean process (whereby one household can exclusively book the shared facilities for a fixed time, and the facilities are cleaned thoroughly between reservations)"

Problem is that the guidance issued is sort of one-size-fits-all and refers in general to sizeable commercially run hostels (such as the larger YHA hostels) and doesn't take account of small club hostels, owned and run by their members.

I'd welcome comments from anyone who believes that my assumptions are incorrect.
Under the previous rules we have had out hut open to a single bubble / household (and the same for our cottage)(and an arrangement for campervans etc).
This rule now says that a mixed group of 6 can share a dormitory / bunkroom (for ? 8-10 hours) but can't share any other facilities. I do wonder if something went wrong with their editing / updating process (or perhaps they just forgot to read the foot notes).
Anyway, not hugely helpful to planning, and given what we are learning about transmission (more airborne, less fomite) not particularly reasuring.
(how much of an aerosol does snoring create?)


Well-known member
Anyway, not hugely helpful to planning, and given what we are learning about transmission (more airborne, less fomite) not particularly reasuring.
(how much of an aerosol does snoring create?)

Potentially a lot!

It seems to me that the challenge here, if such a suitable group of people could be found to fulfil the conditions, which is unlikely in practical terms - is how to maintain and enforce the policy of scrupulous cleaning before leaving, and how to ascertain the fulfillment of that policy by said guests after a 72-hour wait has elapsed. After all, if a group is booking the place out for their exclusive use, none of the club Committee, Hut Wardens or any other members are able to visit to ascertain that the group are sticking to the rules and have cleaned the place thoroughly. This would be easier to manage in a guest house, but in a caving club that by its very nature is rather dusty and superficially 'dirty', it's practically impossible. And no matter how well-meant, behaviour slips from perfect all the time. The virus is invisible, so nobody will ever know what surfaces have been touched, or which have been cleaned. Unless we install CCTV in every room and watch the entire broadcast afterwards. Remember this?


I'm rather cynical of the 'observance of the rules' market at the moment, which is partly due to where I live, but this imaginary group of perfect people that we could happily rent out our hostel to, with no risk to us, don't exist. Many many people either can't or won't do social distancing, so I doubt they'll do thorough cleaning, especially if they've never done it before, even in their own homes. Our club is presently in Tier 1, but most of its active members will be in 2 or 3, so technically they're not even allowed to visit to do any checks. So I'm still inclining to 'tough luck' as the default answer for these sorts of queries personally, which is a shame, but then there is a pandemic on.

Jenny P

The possibility that a user group might not clean sufficiently carefully is a possibility, which is why my club has set the additional precaution of a 72-hour quarantine between booked visits.

So far we have had staying either very small family groups of 2, 3 or 4 members or several members who have each made a solo booking and stayed entirely on their own.  We have taken other precautions in the way of moving items out of the way or removing them altogether temporarily to "de-clutter" the place and make cleaning simpler.  We have also made sure that there are appropriate disinfectant sprays and hand-sanitisers in various places round the building plus supplies of paper towels, soap, etc. and have removed such items as tea-towels and hand-towels which could potentially create problems if used by more than one group.  As we only have our own members or their immediate family staying at the Club Hut we do know exactly who stayed and when and no-one from an area where extra restrictions are in force has stayed.

For the moment, given these precautions, my Club believes we are acting responsibly and our members appreciate this.  If the official guidelines change to indicate that we should no longer allow members to stay under any circumstances then we would have to accept this.