As registered members of Sport Malta, the MCC has just received a circular which has been sent out to all Sports organisations on the island entitled “Guidelines for Return to Sport as part of the COVID-19 transition in Malta”. Please check the “Files” tab of this Facebook Group where you will find a downloadable copy.
Thankfully, the climbing section has now been amended following the release of the previous circular we’d received on the 21st May which had stated that “Solo climbing is highly recommended (!!!)”. We’d written to Sport Malta on the 22nd May about this, suggesting that they contact us in future prior to releasing any advice aimed specifically at climbers, as solo climbing was perhaps the most dangerous form of our sport and it was certainly NOT recommended, particularly at a time when our health services needed to focus on the pandemic rather than potential climbing related injuries.
So, how do the new guidelines affect climbers? Many climbers in Malta have carried on climbing despite the pandemic, however they have had the good sense to maintain social distancing and only climb in pairs or small groups, as required by the regulations.
The circular highlights the fact that “it is important to keep in mind that the threat of becoming infected …has not been removed. The risk of person-to-person transmission from exposure is cumulative, the longer and closer the exposure, the higher the risk. SOCIAL DISTANCING AND GOOD HYGIENE ARE THE BEST WAYS OF INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL IN SUCH INSTANCES AND REMAIN THE GUIDING PUBLIC HEALTH PRINCIPLES”.
The new section on climbing states specifically:
• Social distancing of 3m to be maintained where possible
(MCC Note: Clearly this is achievable while one person is climbing, however when both are gearing up stay apart and buddy checks should be done at a distance). Keep your distance from each other when walking to the crag too.
• Groups of up to 8 climbers
(MCC Note: Shouldn’t be a problem for most climbers, this will only affect our climbing meets, but we have a cunning plan and will spread the meets out over a couple of sectors at least to fulfil this requirement). If you visit a popular crag where there are already a lot of climbers (am thinking of Cat’s Arches for example, or Babu) then spread out to another part of the crag or move to another area.)
• No sharing of personal equipment
(MCC Note: Most climbers have their own gear, except for the rope and draws which are often common. Hard to avoid contact with these! I would avoid putting the rope in my mouth as much as possible while leading (easier said than done, I know). If each person can bring his own draws so much the better, but contact is inevitable when the second is unclipping the rope while climbing. Even if he leaves the draws clipped into the bolts for the leader to clear, An option could be for the second to climb on the part of the rope that is not clipped into the draws. See what works for you).
• Regular disinfection of equipment
(MCC Note:This link should come in handy: https://www.singingrock.com/covid-19-disinfection-statement)
For info about how covid-19 has affected climbing in other countries check out the UIAA website here: https://www.theuiaa.org/uiaa-members-covid-19/easing-of-covid-19-measures-further-updates-from-uiaa-members/?fbclid=IwAR0P-kZeAKZgAvqhR53NWJUYYZXbMqKo-lB95sDK280eotwwNaRzHLYmNmk