Dear Southern Cavers,
As most all of you will be aware, the government announced on Saturday that new lockdown measures will be introduced from Thursday 5th November in an attempt to control the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. The details of these measures can be found here.
One of the issues as regards caving is that you can only leave home for specific purposes, one of which being: “to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place – with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another”
If caving is considered to provide a form of “outdoor exercise” it will be up to individual cavers to decide whether or not they can or should go caving whilst meeting both the letter and spirit of the new national restrictions. Cavers should think carefully whether a caving trip meets the latest travel restrictions, noting in particular that as of 2nd November;
• “You should avoid travelling in or out of your local area, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make.”
• “you can and should still travel for a number of reasons, including … exercise, if you need to make a short journey to do so”.
Further points to consider are that some landowners may not feel comfortable in allowing cavers onto their land during lockdown. In these cases please be understanding and respect their wishes. The Council of Southern Caving Clubs (CSCC) will try to maintain a list of lockdown access arrangements, but given the fast-moving nature of the situation it is possible that cavers will come across restrictions not previously reported. In these cases please respect the landowners wishes and inform CSCC so that we can advise others. It is quite possible that local residents will be wary of visitors, and as such cavers should be discreet and avoid caves close to private residencies. If cavers are seen, or suspected, of breaking the national restrictions this could have serious long-term impacts upon our relationships with the communities we rely on for amongst other things access to our caves.
A rescue during the lockdown would be a major issue for Mendip Cave Rescue (MCR). Whilst they will remain ready to come to the aid of anyone in need underground, the process will be complicated by lockdown restrictions which may slow response and wearing of PPE to minimise infection risk will hamper underground operations. As such please chose your trip carefully to ensure that it lies well within the abilities of all members of the party.
We cannot advise you whether your trip, if you intend to cave, falls within government guidelines or not, but if you do decide to cave please think carefully about the potential consequences of your trip and ensure that you are complying with the latest government advice. The situation is evolving quickly and CSCC will continue to do our best to keep you informed of how the situation is affecting caving in the south via the CSCC website.
Ed Waters (CSCC Chairman) & Martin Grass (Hon Secretary MCR).
2nd November 2020