Diving in the times of COVID-19
Some of the measures I will have in place when we get to dive again: My dive groups will be all private from now on | You will have the option of meeting up directly at the Cenote | Rental equipment and personal equipment will follow the same disinfection methods | Food will be handled depeding on your personal preferences | We will not sacrifice dive safety to implement no-contact policies, but we will encourage a safe distance. For more details read on!
I am writing from home, like everyone else I’m starting to feel like this has been enough. Of course, diving has made this experience salvageable and I do consider myself lucky for being able to escape to the jungle and get in the water, but we all must agree that life must go on. And life now has COVID-19. Although there is talk about restarting dive operations, so far, we are not out of the woods, and after June 1st we are still requested by the State Governement in Quintana Roo to stay home. So, the lockdown continues.
So, what do we do now?
After extensive reading about recommendations for dive ops, DAN guidelines, State guidelines, learning way more on disinfection methods than I really need, finding endless lists of products that are efficient against the SARS-CoV-2 however NOT available in Mexico, and after feeling frustrated one minute and hopeful the next, I decided to look at things from a practical point and come up with a plan, for when we dive again.
How would I expect thee dive shop I dive with to provide the service? This is how I have always made decisions for my business so I took it from there and I feel like I it’s doable, it makes sense, and I can adapt making those measures stricter or more relaxed depending on the evolution of this phenomenon, or depending on the comfort of my customers. After all, it’s you who I dive with, so I want to make you happy from start to end. The fact that I’ve worked with private diving only for a number of years has made this easy to organise. For me it is business as usual!
Cenote Girl COVID-19 operation background, changes and guidelines
- I operate only private dive trips but in the last year I would offer solo travellers to join other solo travellers to form a small group of divers, mainly to have them meet other people and have more fun. From now on and until new notice your party or you as a solo traveller will get to share your dives with me but there won’t be other people from different groups anymore. This will reduce the contact with third parties during your trip. Once we know more about the epidemic, we can start offering joint trips again.
- We share closed space during car travel. You will have the option of meeting me at the cenote (driving there by your own means) or coming with me in my car. In any case the inside of the car will be disinfected with Lysol after the last use. Lysol is a product available in Mexico that can be used on surfaces and fabrics without damaging them. The car is equipped with disinfectant gel to use during the day as well as soap and potable water (other than drinking) to wash hands between dives, before eating or before handling equipment. Some cenotes also have sinks with soap.
- Rental equipment will always be rinsed, disinfected with Lysol (in the case of fabrics) or chlorine (in the case of masks, regs) for 30 minutes at least, it will be rinsed with fresh water after disinfection and dried separately. Gear will be handled and stored in an individual plastic container once dry. There are no other people handling the equipment so I will personally conduct this process. Containers have lids and should be used by the same person. If you have your own gear you have the choice of rinsing it yourself at your lodging facility or leaving it with me, in which case I will follow the same procedures as with rental gear. I own enough regulators to allow for 3 days’ time between using one set by two different people. This means we have enough time to properly treat the gear without affecting the operation. I will ask you to empty the BCD by orally inflating it and flushing it before we part so I do not have to inflate it orally myself, like this we are all safe.
- During dive trips we usually stop at food stalls, taco stands or restaurants and I also provide snacks, biscuits, fruit and water. I completely understand if you prefer to prepare your own food, or if you have a preference for food that can be easily disinfected (like fruits, which can be properly washed before eating). The easiest way is to let me know your preferences and I will cater to it having in mind that I prefer to operate zero waste lunches and will always look for the most environmentally friendly option when possible.
- We are encouraged to reduce and limit contact with divers. While I find this measure the hardest one because I tend to be near my students and divers, I want to provide the best experience and therefore I’ll need you to communicate with me about your comfort zone. It has been suggested dive guides should not touch divers when entering and exiting the water or during dives. I will continue to help you as much as I can and ensuring your water entry and exit are safe. Working in slippery and wet environments can be challenging as it is so I will ask for yet more attention from your side so that I can assist you with minimum contact. Knowing that I will not hesitate to touch your gear or hold you if I consider a dangerous situation may happen.
- The fun and the love for diving should not be shadowed by the worry of the pandemic and I encourage everyone to increase measures and focus on having a good time at the same time. Trust me in making your dives memorable and do not hesitate to talk with me about your concerns and even your ideas. We can plan your trip together be it cavern, cave or ocean dives, and explore underwater Mexico while we stay safe and healthy. Let’s do this together, I’m waiting for you in the Mayan Riviera!