Friday 1st May 2020, 3:38pm
A letter to members from Stuart Younie, CEO, and Brian Shackleton, President
Thank you for following the current advice and adhering to the restrictions we have been living with in recent weeks. It has been a difficult time as we have re-adjusted to staying at home and away from hills, mountains and activities we all love, particularly over this recent spell of fine weather.
Like you, we are very keen to get back to the hills but want to do that in a way that is safe and respects the position that our voluntary mountain rescue teams and emergency services are in, whilst also being mindful of concerns from rural communities who may feel more at risk as people start to return to the hills.
We want to set out some of the thinking we are developing with key partners and reassure you that the staff and directors of Mountaineering Scotland are working hard on your behalf to help us get back to the activities we all enjoy. We want to play our part in helping to move from a message based on “stay at home” to one built around physical distancing and responsible behaviour, with the safety and well-being of everyone continuing to be a key priority.
Whilst the current restrictions look likely to remain in place for some time yet, the announcement from the First Minister last Thursday offered some hope for the outdoor community as the framework document she launched indicated that “It may be that restrictions on some outdoor activity are eased before those on indoor activities….”
Any move to ease restrictions will need to provide guidance on how we can keep safe to avoid the potential transmission of the virus and also to behave responsibly and help avoid the need to call out mountain rescue volunteers and emergency services.
Looking at what has been happening in other countries in Europe and across the world, there is a strong possibility that any easing of restrictions will be phased and, for outdoor sports, this may mean advice on what activities are more appropriate in the early stages, based on an assessment of risk.
We are in the process of engaging with other outdoor sports organisations to establish whether some common messaging can be developed and will also be speaking with the National Parks who will also have a different set of challenges to manage, particularly at popular locations.
We also need to consider any return within the context of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and to work with farmers and landowners during any transition period to ensure we exercise our rights responsibly, with the health risks from coronavirus another factor to consider.
An important piece of work will be working with Mountain Training and professional associations to support the development of best practice and advice for instructors, guides and leaders on how their activities can resume safely, and this will include our own Mountain Safety programme. This will be particularly important given the financial impact the lockdown has had on many sole traders and small businesses who operate in the outdoor sector as well as the effect on our own personal and family circumstances.
We will have to understand that some aspects of our activity may remain considerably restricted for some time to come, with easing of lockdown a step by step process which we will have to work with. In the longer term we will of course also need to support our climbing walls in preparing for when the time is right for indoor sports facilities to start to reopen for business.
Finally, if you or your club have any thoughts or suggestions on how we as the Mountaineering Scotland community can help to develop our approach, advice and guidance for members and the general public please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
So for now it is “stay home, stay safe” but in the coming weeks we want to work with you towards “stay safe and take care when outdoors”. Our thanks again for putting your activities temporarily on hold whilst we all get through the current crisis.
Stuart Younie CEO, Mountaineering Scotland
Brian Shackleton President, Mountaineering Scotland
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