BDSG and UK agencies urge cautious return to the water

Latest guidance is to dive conservatively and observe social distancing topside

Author: Pat
22nd May 2020

Shore diver returns to the water after COVID-19 lockdown

The British Diving Safety Group (BDSG) has issued new guidance for recreational divers planning to resume diving, now that government lockdown restrictions have eased slightly.

The BDSG is a working group made up of a multitude of diving agencies, and is chaired by the RNLI. The group is a broad church, with all of the UK diver training agencies, the HSE and the MCA having a seat at the table.

reduce the risks of accidents, bends or other headline-grabbing pitfalls

Given the risks inherent in our sport, the BDSG is now advising a careful, conservative return to the water to reduce the risks of accidents, bends or other headline-grabbing pitfalls.

As we’ve all had several months on dry land, divers are being urged to ‘work up’ their dives, refresh any rusty skills, and take a sensible approach to deep diving.

Underpinning the advice is the need to maintain social distancing when out of the water, if diving with a buddy not from your household. Although the guidance refers to shore diving, it doesn’t say boat diving should remain on hold per se (point 4).

In reality, charter boats may not be able to run with social distancing in place.

The BDSG guidance currently only applies for diving in England. When the devolved Government advice changes in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the BDSG will also amend its advice.

The Republic of Ireland resumed limited diving activities on Monday 18 May, which is recreational non-training shore diving to 12 metres.

The full advice is as follows…

BDSG Guidance for diving in England, as of 21 May 2020

1) You must follow the Coronavirus (COVID-19) government guidance for your country at all times.

2) You must follow the normal safety protocols recommended by your training organisation, and any special guidance provided by them regarding COVID-19.

3) Without any specific guidance on water sports or diving, it is the BDSG’s interpretation that diving is considered as an outdoor activity and as such, shore diving should be practical if done while following points 5 and 6.

4) Boat diving will be inherently less practical, but some boat operators may be able to meet these recommendations.

5) You can dive with one other person not from your household if you follow the two-metre rule while out of the water.

6) You can dive with anyone from your household and there is no need to follow the two-metre rule while out of the water.

7) If you have had symptoms or positive testing for COVID-19, consult with a doctor before diving, ideally a doctor specialising in diving medicine, eg UK Diving Medical Committee ( In any event, you should be following self-isolation guidelines relevant for your country if you have tested positive for COVID-19, came into contact with anyone tested positive or have any symptoms or suspect that you may have COVID-19.

8 ) We strongly recommend that only experienced and fit divers return to diving at this stage, due to the limited capacity of the emergency services.

9) Additional guidance and advice on the possible consequences of COVID-19 for diving is available from DAN Europe ( ‘COVID-19 and Diving Activities: 10 Safety Recommendations’).

The Scottish Government are expected to amend their COVID-19 restrictions on 28 May 2020.

The BDSG COVID-19 Working Group is meeting on a weekly basis, in order to review this guidance as the situation evolves.


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BDSG British Diving Safety Group and agencies

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