Covid-19 Mitigation Policy
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COVID-19 Dive Policies for Lion's Paw

Background:

Divers need to understand that the potential for the spread of the Covid-19 infection from the Corona virus is a real possibility when people congregate in close environments.  As you should already know, this virus can be deadly and is easily spread through airborne respiratory particles when people are in close proximity and especially while in enclosed spaces.  The spread is also possible thru contact with surfaces which infected persons have touched or deposited respiratory particles.

The general conditions on a dive boat do not easily allow for the recommended social distancing space or not contacting surfaces that others have recently touched (out on a rough ocean you have to hold onto something).   The various surfaces within the boat are not all easily sanitized or maintained in that condition.  The wearing of masks may not be practical for an all day excursion although this may minimize transmission while in the enclosed areas.

If you get this infection and it becomes serious, it may end your diving career due to lung damage.  Dive Hatteras is not responsible if you acquire the Covid-19 infection after diving with us.   There is no guarantee that any of the precautions we are trying to take are effective in preventing spread of this disease.   It is really the conduct of you and the other divers that determine if spread occurs. 

We need to consider the issues associated with these transmission possibilities and act responsibly while onboard and being in close contact with the other divers and boat crew.  In this effort, the following efforts will be made to minimize transmission possibilities.

 Primary Importance:

·        If you have any potential symptoms of this infection, or simply don't feel 100%, do not come to the boat to go diving.  There will be no penalty for this decision, you will not be required to pay for your spot. 

·        If you have had any recent contact (last 10 to 14 days before the trip) with anyone who has had symptoms or been tested positive for this,  do not come to the boat to go diving.  There will be no penalty for this decision, you will not be required to pay for your spot. 

·        It is your responsibility to develop and maintain awareness of this issue and practice personal safety to the best of your ability.  COVID-19 has infected millions worldwide and killed scores, including well over 110,000 Americans.   USA currently has the most infections per capita and the reported infections are the tip of this iceberg.

·        Your health and safety is only as good as the members of your dive group, if one person is not serious about this issue, then all are compromised by that attitude. 

Procedures:

·        It is requested that you bring the minimal amount of equipment with you for the diving day.  Do not leave your gear out where it will have to be moved  by others.  Please keep the seating areas clear of all equipment to allow the maximum space for seating distance.

·        Load your gear on board yourself and minimize handling other's equipment and personal items. 

·        You will be asked to do a thorough hand wash prior to boarding the boat and use the hand washing/sanitizing onboard through the day.

·        There will not be community rinse bucket available, use the ocean or deck rinse hose.  Do not publicly spit into your mask, there is mask defog liquid available.   Be considerate of what you are doing in clearing the mucus and excretions that often occur during the diving.  Do not spread this around.

·        There are sanitizing cleaners in the head and cabin area to be used as needed.  Hand sanitizers will be available if they are commercially available.

·        Use the sinks in cabin and head or the deck hose to wash hands often, there will be liquid hand soap readily available.

·        Use of face coverings is encouraged if you will be down below or divers are in the enclosed spaces due to sea conditions.   Out on the deck in the breeze, transmission becomes less likely if distancing is used, so mask use is not required.

·        After the diving, community rinse buckets will not be used.  Clean your gear separately and take it with you at the end of the diving day.  Hard gear like tanks, etc may be left on the boat.  Loaner gear will be rinsed and cleaned separately as well and regulators sanitized for each diver.

·        SMALL personal coolers are now allowed for your personal drinks and lunch needs.  The large boat cooler will still have plenty of bottled water for your use, but use good hygiene and wash hands as appropriate using this cooler.

The following is from the DAN website on dive boat operation recommendations:

What actions should I consider during dive boat operations to prevent possible COVID-19 transmission?

This situation is one in which the risk of transmission will be high due to the limited space and proximity of people. At a minimum, consider the following suggestions. Note that these recommendations are for day boat operations; live aboard operations are outside the scope of this answer.

§  Consider reducing the number of divers per boat to better respect social distancing, and discourage any non-diving passengers.

§  Any materials not needed for the dive operations or for safety reasons should not be taken on board.

§  Have all equipment on board before you start boarding the divers.

§  Have scuba units assembled before divers board.

§  Consider protecting masks, snorkels and second stages/mouthpieces by securing them in such a way as to limit contact/exposure.

§  Boarding procedures should be organized to respect social distancing at all times.

§  Pre-dive mask rinse buckets should not be used. Anti-fog should be used, but spitting in masks should be discouraged or disallowed (especially for rental masks). Consider having divers supply their own masks instead of providing rentals.

§  Encourage regular hand hygiene by staff, especially when handling customers’ equipment.

§  Social distancing is important to prevent the spread of a virus, but one should keep in mind that on a moving boat or in the wind, the virus may travel a longer distance. The use of protective masks will reduce the risk of contamination, but the virus can be present on any surface on board.

§  Advise everyone on board to avoid touching anything unnecessarily and to avoid touching their face.

§  Remind divers not to share equipment or even let their equipment touch.

§  Maintain social distancing while divers enter the water, and ensure that divers do not crowd together on the surface without a compelling reason to do so.

§  Encourage divers to maintain at least 6 feet of distance when clearing their nose, sinuses or throat at the surface or after a dive.

§  Maintain social distancing when divers get back on board.

§  In general, customers should be responsible for assembling their own equipment. If crew members handle customers’ equipment, they should practice hand hygiene before and after handling each customers’ gear.

§  Encourage divers to handle only their own equipment.

Dive safety is a responsibility shared by divers and dive operators. It assumes that healthy divers protect themselves, ill divers do not dive, and divers who were in close contact with COVID-19 patients stay self-quarantined for 14 days. In return, dive operators should implement anti-microbial control at the dive site, follow current local rules that may limit gathering, screen their staff and put in place reasonable social distancing measures.

As social activities resume, people with an increased risk of severe COVID-19 should remain at heightened alert regarding social participation and travel for as long as the pandemic is not eradicated.

If you would like to learn more as you prepare for resumption of diving activities when local regulations permit, keep an eye on DAN.org/COVID-19 for more comprehensive recommendations to help you prepare.

 

 

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