Author Topic: Starting caving again - when?  (Read 2484 times)

Offline Alex

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #25 on: May 11, 2020, 11:54:27 am »
You also probably cannot go caving in Wales, not sure what their advice/directions are, I have not looked.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline bagpuss

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #26 on: May 11, 2020, 11:54:48 am »
Note - in most cases you will not be welcome by the locals of places like Horton in Ribblesdale or Austwick etc - and you would certainly not be welcome at caves near any farms.
 Is caving actually OUTDOOR exercise ;)

In this context, that question actually seems much more reasonable than how we usually see it in the CRoW debate.

From the point of view of transmission, crawling over the same damp surfaces in a potentially confined environment shortly after someone else has, regardless of a 2m spacing would appear to carry a greater risk, than say playing football.

I agree with you Pete. It would be good to see governing bodies confirm that it's excluded for now and to also to publish potential solutions/ or discussion on how it could work in the future.

Online mikem

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2020, 12:04:52 pm »
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 12:23:25 pm by mikem »

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2020, 12:24:09 pm »
I would suggest there are some key aspects which need to be taken into consideration in making a judgement about going caving even if one ignores the potential hostile response from visiting a 'distant' area as opposed to your local neighbourhood. 

The virus spreads by air as well as surface.  I would suggest masks are impracticable in most caves.  Comment has been made about the social distancing within buildings being less reliable than outside where air drafts aid dispersion.  I therefore sense that the 2m rule would not be sufficient to protect persons in cave.

Obviously common gear such as rope or ladder and indeed the surface of the cave itslef will be a possible transmission system.  Whilst gloves could be worn to avoid direct transmission onto one's skin, that does not stop the potential for touching one's face / mouth with the hand and transmitting the virus.  My guess is that the virus will last long enough (i.e. hours) even in the colder conditions of a cave for transmission to potentially occur across an otherwise socially distant party. 

So I think that limits caving with just those in your own household.  (My thought is that in due course when the 'social bubble' concept has evolved, then perhaps it may be possible to expand the party.)

It does appear that the threat to overwhelm the NHS has receded.  I think that means the risk of adding to the burden of the NHS by having an accident is now back to being acceptable.  However, that does not make any difference to the virus related risk to rescuers if one does have an accident.  And please note, virus related harm suffered by a rescuer is not covered by the police insurance. 

I await with interest the clarification statement expected to day and the further guidance notes to be issued tomorrow.  Let's hope they shed further light on what one can and cannot do.

And of course, it looks like all of this only applies to England. 

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2020, 12:41:32 pm »
Agree, the clarification statement should be rather more explicit than last night's announcement.
Mr Sp8 made a good point, a few posts above as well.

Offline Fishes

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2020, 12:53:29 pm »
I know we all want to get back underground but I think that there is good reason to be cautious about this.

Although most rescue teams are in a position to mount a rescue they are operating at reduced numbers. If there is a rescue then it is highly likely that those team members involved would then have to self isolate for 14 days. Its also likely that any kit used on a rescue will not be usable for 3-7 days due to possible contamination.

Offline bagpuss

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #31 on: May 11, 2020, 12:54:32 pm »
I would suggest there are some key aspects which need to be taken into consideration in making a judgement about going caving even if one ignores the potential hostile response from visiting a 'distant' area as opposed to your local neighbourhood. 

The virus spreads by air as well as surface.  I would suggest masks are impracticable in most caves.  Comment has been made about the social distancing within buildings being less reliable than outside where air drafts aid dispersion.  I therefore sense that the 2m rule would not be sufficient to protect persons in cave.

Obviously common gear such as rope or ladder and indeed the surface of the cave itslef will be a possible transmission system.  Whilst gloves could be worn to avoid direct transmission onto one's skin, that does not stop the potential for touching one's face / mouth with the hand and transmitting the virus.  My guess is that the virus will last long enough (i.e. hours) even in the colder conditions of a cave for transmission to potentially occur across an otherwise socially distant party. 

So I think that limits caving with just those in your own household.  (My thought is that in due course when the 'social bubble' concept has evolved, then perhaps it may be possible to expand the party.)

It does appear that the threat to overwhelm the NHS has receded.  I think that means the risk of adding to the burden of the NHS by having an accident is now back to being acceptable.  However, that does not make any difference to the virus related risk to rescuers if one does have an accident.  And please note, virus related harm suffered by a rescuer is not covered by the police insurance. 

I await with interest the clarification statement expected to day and the further guidance notes to be issued tomorrow.  Let's hope they shed further light on what one can and cannot do.

And of course, it looks like all of this only applies to England.

For popular caves even if you stuck to family groups you'd still be repeatedly touching the same surfaces others have touched, some of the more popular caves could have significant numbers passing through if people decided to return to caving. I'll be interested to see what guidance the BMC issues in respect of scrambling and climbing, as in terms of surface contact that will be similar.

Online mikem

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #32 on: May 11, 2020, 12:56:27 pm »
There's also the risk of a team member passing the virus on to you (as well as their colleagues)!

Same thought as Bagpuss - BMC advice for climbing will be most appropriate alternative activity, as hillwalking & most watersports are more "socially distant" anyway...

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2020, 01:39:22 pm »
I know we all want to get back underground but I think that there is good reason to be cautious about this.

Although most rescue teams are in a position to mount a rescue they are operating at reduced numbers. If there is a rescue then it is highly likely that those team members involved would then have to self isolate for 14 days. Its also likely that any kit used on a rescue will not be usable for 3-7 days due to possible contamination.

Agreed. This article may also be useful:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-52615443

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #34 on: May 11, 2020, 02:11:01 pm »
BMC advice for climbing will be most appropriate alternative activity, as hillwalking & most watersports are more "socially distant" anyway...
Unfortunately the BMC advice of a day or so ago, see "http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Handlers/DownloadHandler.ashx?id=1901" does not appear to consider the potential for the spread of the virus by contact with contaminated surfaces. 

Online mikem

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #35 on: May 11, 2020, 02:22:14 pm »
HMG have published:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884171/FINAL_6.6637_CO_HMG_C19_Recovery_FINAL_110520_v2_WEB__1_.pdf

Bob -
Quote
Hygiene considerations for climbing and hill walking are no different to current advice for those going on low-level walks on public rights of way from their houses.
• Our advice would recommend use of hand sanitising gel before and after contacting any surfaces whilst outdoors.
• Upon arrival back at home, decontamination should take place by washing hands and quarantining any equipment that has contacted other people or surfaces, for as long as possible outside or in a dedicated area inside.

& Take the opportunity to visit new and less frequented areas.
• Avoid visiting popular venues and have several backup plans so that if you arrive at a busy venue you can go elsewhere.

Online pwhole

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #36 on: May 11, 2020, 02:27:00 pm »
All this makes me wonder just how many people have previously become ill by visiting, say, Suicide Cave in Winnats Pass, or Odin Cave, which are regularly used as a toilet, or as a sex-site. Last year, two of us popped into Windy Knoll Cave and found a used condom way beyond daylight, in the muddy section! I can think of better places, personally, but - whatever. And what about the Speedwell Canal in summer? There's up to 30 people crammed into a draughting drainpipe, with the ones at the back heading out getting a full dose of everything from everyone!
Why I always sit on the floor of the boat if I'm cadging a lift ;)

But that's an important point, even with gloves - the draughts are a problem in many sites, as everyone in an enclosed passage will be sharing the air. I keep thinking of ways how I can easily go caving with social distancing, and then the caveats kick in, as Bob points out, and it seems way more difficult. Everyone I know reports to be healthy, and we've all shared each other's air many times before (in many cases digging, almost completely), but then we've never had this virus around before. A lot of my caving colleagues are also in DCRO - so if we could go caving together, then they clearly could also rescue me. That's the balance we've got to strike and it isn't easy.

Offline MarkS

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #37 on: May 11, 2020, 02:28:25 pm »
The pessimist in me thinks that the comment, "You will still not be able to use areas [...] where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces" implies that (for anyone not in the same household) caving would not be deemed OK under new guidelines. :(

Let's also not forget that with no UV underground, the likelihood is that a virus would also last longer in a cave than on an equivalent surface outside.

Online mikem

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #38 on: May 11, 2020, 02:34:50 pm »
That is more about the sheer number of people involved though - so no honeypot sites.

Offline Badlad

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #39 on: May 11, 2020, 02:41:52 pm »
I'm not suggesting anyone should be going caving at the moment but there are a lot more places where we share the air than in caves.  Aeroplanes for one, anyone down wind of someone else, alley ways, ginnels, lifts and car parks.  It's not a problem unique to caving.  Nor is contamination of surfaces or equipment, but it all needs to be taken into consideration when assessing the risk.

You may be interested to know that several rope access training companies have been back at work for several weeks.  They have looked at the risk of both social distancing and contamination and seem to have come up with solutions they are happy with.  I've assessed two courses during lockdown and been quite impressed with how they have gone about it.

Anyway I reiterate that I am not suggesting anyone should be going caving at the moment, only that we are not unique and that others are finding quite thoughtful ways of mitigating similar risk.

Online mikem

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #40 on: May 11, 2020, 03:08:01 pm »
Presumably that includes not using the same ropes as another person - SRT / rope access has always been a somewhat solitary occupation.

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #41 on: May 11, 2020, 03:08:40 pm »
The situation in Wales is that “caving is still on hold”.  The recent Welsh Government announcement drops the “once a day” exercising rule here to re-align Wales with England on that matter.  Official advice is:  wherever you can to stay at home;  if you need to leave home for work, exercise or shopping, you should stay local and stay alert as the coronavirus has not gone away;  and if you go out, then stay local and stay safe.

There is no change to the two-person rule:  two unrelated people can meet up so long as they observe the 2m social distancing rule, for example to have a drink in the garden (bring your own bottle/glass), talking over the garden fence to a neighbour, meeting other people in the street; going for a local run together.  I am not suggesting people should go caving in the present cirucmstances, but the implication of the 'rules' seems to be that two unrelated people or a same-household group can go caving together so long as it is done near home and socially distanced and at low risk of accident - regardless of whether it is sensible or desirable, and I feel it is not.

There has been a change (little publicised) in areas of land that are closed.  Pwll Du, for example, is now off the closed list, except for its popular car parks, as is Llangattock.  A confusing situation arose because the Brecon Beacons NPA posted two different lists of area closures on their tourism and official websites.  They now consistent.  The Welsh Government has collated the links to all the closed land areas across all of Wales at https://gov.wales/public-rights-way-and-access-land-closures

Virtually all the BBNPA closures refer to “access land above the hill fence”.   The legally-minded amongst you will know that “urban commons” such as Pwll Du and Llangattock are not “access land” by virtue of s.15 of the CROW Act 2000 and instead are “urban commons” under the LPA 1925.  Furthermore, NRW holds that “caves are not land” for the purpose of statutory access to caves on urban commons.  Their interpretation of “land” was intended to deny a statutory right of access, but (if correct) arguing that caves are not land would deny the authorities any statutory right of closure.

The police are interpreting driving anywhere for exercise as illegal which begs the question of why the National Park Authority has closed some car parks via an official closure list but not others.  For example Blaen Onneu car park is closed but informal laybys closeby are not (according to the BBNPA but not the police).  Unclosed alternative parking places do not have official closed signs posted.  Yet there are NPA and police “closed” signs on other car parks and laybys which are not on any closed list.  This is somewhere in between a confused situation and a shambles.
 
Garden Centres in Wales are to be opened soon for socially distanced shopping, and Public Libraries and Recycling Facilities will also re-open.  Schools in Wales remain closed despite plans for a limited primary school re-opening in England from June.

As to rescues, people should regard rescue services as non-operational therefore to scale back their outdoors activities to low-risk things well within their capability and experience.  The Welsh air ambulance is not operating, and RAF yellow helicopters are not operating either except for life and death cases, and this is due to the implications of potential contamination and deep cleaning of aircraft plus other practical and safety matters.

A concern of cave rescue, besides the obvious one of the virus being vectored by the incident itself,  is that attending any less serious incident could compromise a more serious future incident by putting personnel (and equipment) out of use while they (and it) are quarantined (or deep cleaned) for some days until deemed clear of transmission risks.

More details will emerge this week, but I feel it is unfair to lambaste Boris Johnson right now for vagueness when the successful gradual unwinding the coronavirus restrictions will call for much more common sense and judgement by  everyone – embodied in the new concept of “alertness”.  We are going to have to find ways to live with and adapt to the virus being around for a long time to come without destroying the economy or fuelling new waves of infection.

The above diverse examples serve to show the limitations of making up seemingly simple rules to address a problem which has very many and complex facets.  The political dynamic of the virus epidemic dictates eventual convergence of international, national and regional policy.  The only question is when that happens and how much delay needs to be allowed for positions to coalesce without it looking like anyone made a wrong call.  There is nothing inherently wrong with trying different approaches in an uncertain world provided there is also willingness to learn from one another.


Offline Ed

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #42 on: May 11, 2020, 03:25:55 pm »
RAF yellow helicopters haven't being operating since 4 October 2015 when Birstow's took over  RAF Search and Rescue Force wound up 18 February 2016)

Birstow's are still flying - but limited


Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #43 on: May 11, 2020, 03:38:13 pm »
From "OUR PLAN TO REBUILD:The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy", see https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884171/FINAL_6.6637_CO_HMG_C19_Recovery_FINAL_110520_v2_WEB__1_.pdf page 27

Public spaces

SAGE advise that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, so the Government is updating the rules so that,as well as exercise,people can now also spend time outdoors subject to: not meeting up withanymore than one person from outside your household;continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household; good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces; and those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance.

People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish.For example, this would include angling and tennis. You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces. You can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household –this means you should notplay team sports, except with members of your own household.

People may drive to outdoor open spacesirrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance whilethey are there, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.

When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #44 on: May 11, 2020, 05:27:36 pm »
Note - in most cases you will not be welcome by the locals of places like Horton in Ribblesdale or Austwick etc - and you would certainly not be welcome at caves near any farms.
 Is caving actually OUTDOOR exercise ;)

In this context, that question actually seems much more reasonable than how we usually see it in the CRoW debate.

From the point of view of transmission, crawling over the same damp surfaces in a potentially confined environment shortly after someone else has, regardless of a 2m spacing would appear to carry a greater risk, than say playing football.

Wouldn't the flood of cold running water wash away any virus even contemplating going caving with you?

The other point is, of course, that this doesn't mean that Club Huts can re-open - there may possibly be some guidance coming down the line about re-opening of hostels (Club Huts, Bunkhouses, YHA Hostels, etc.) which have dormitory accommodation.  But I suspect that's far down the line yet.

So, one thing if you are lucky enough to live in a caving area but rather different if you live some way away.  Tricky also if you live in one of the areas where you are required to collect a key and you would normally do this from a Club Hut.  (At least a "Derbyshire Key" is a do-it-yourself job!)

And you're quite right to mention that the local inhabitants where you want to go caving might not want you around - given that some of them have been blocking footpaths and putting aggressive notices on car windscreens in areas where people have tried to go walking in the countryside.

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #45 on: May 11, 2020, 05:41:26 pm »
Wouldn't the flood of cold running water wash away any virus even contemplating going caving with you?
Yes you are right, but only for the last person in and the first person out.  The rest of the party are being washed by the virus infected water whose dilution depends upon the level of flow.  However, I would suggest the majority of caves do not have continuously water washed surfaces on which you put your hands.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #46 on: May 11, 2020, 05:45:07 pm »
Well, I always wear gloves anyway and just assumed others did.

Maybe the answer is to only go into really, really, wet caves ? 

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #47 on: May 11, 2020, 05:59:50 pm »
Well, I always wear gloves anyway and just assumed others did.
Whether the virus is on you hand or glove, the concern is you accidentally putting it to your lips or eyes (I will discount other orifices) and thereby taking in the virus.  Though I guess if you have a cut on your hand it could gain direct entry.  Having worked in a laboratory with radioactive materials, it is all fraught with difficulty and I recall people cross contaminating themselves when disrobing. 

But I guess cave diving could be OK though, albeit by yourself.

Offline Fjell

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #48 on: May 11, 2020, 06:20:40 pm »
It seems very unlikely you are going to pick up the virus standing on Leck Fell looking at the view, or even fondling the gate latch. It is probably orders of magnitude more dangerous going to Booths.

Hopefully the new guidance will help people understand the risk outside is very low as long as you don't stand next to someone having a chat.

If you are worried about virus in the cave, you are in the wrong cave or with the wrong people.

Online mikem

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Re: Starting caving again - when?
« Reply #49 on: May 11, 2020, 06:25:36 pm »
Maybe someone should ask on Coronavirus Q&A, ITV1 at 8pm..

 

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