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Reopening climbing walls - a statement from the ABC (Read 2048 times)

shark

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I've had a press release from Rich Emerson of the ABC which sets out where they are up to with respect to planning for re-opening climbing walls:

‘A message from the Association of British Climbing Walls’

The Association of British Climbing Walls (the trade body representing 180 walls in the UK) is leading
an initiative to develop a set of guidelines to get walls open again safely. Working very closely
through the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) and with UK Active (the Trade Association for the
fitness and health sector), the ABC is conducting research in order to provide a solid foundation for
the recommendations that will follow.

The ABC has 5 working groups looking at different elements of a strategy for reopening, all
consisting of a mix of climbing wall operators, individuals with expertise and partner organisations.

The teams are being coordinated by ABC Chairman, Rich Emerson who commented that:
Quote
“We will ultimately provide guidelines for safe opening and operational procedures to our members and other climbing walls. Our guidelines will be based on those that are imposed on the fitness sector and have been agreed with Public Health and the Governments across the UK.

Indoor climbing is about our communities, our customers, employees, suppliers and friends. Many of us know each other personally and it is this sense that makes climbing walls so special to everyone.  In the week beginning March 17th, when we all closed our doors, these communities had their focal points removed and the walls went into damage limitation mode.

With government support we’ve worked hard to stabilise the situation and, over the past few weeks have started to look at how we can reopen in a way that is safe for our customers and staff.

We know that our customers want us back as much as we want to be back.

We’ve had some amazing support from our customers and suppliers: Kind words, people continuing to pay their membership others making gifts and buying products from us. These acts have made a huge difference to us all, way beyond their material value.”

The reopening strategy will be based on three elements:

● Hygiene measures - for both staff and customers
● Capacity Management - the guidelines we are working on with UK Active mean that it’s very
likely that customer numbers will have to be limited
● Social Distancing - everyone has become accustomed to the 2m rule - this will be no
different in a climbing wall environment

Alongside the work with UK Active, there is also close cooperation with the Outdoor Industries
Association, British Mountaineering Council, Mountain Training and the ABC Training Trust. Furthermore, an international group of climbing wall bodies has been set up to share procedures
and learning from different countries.

The group met on April 27 th 2020 with representatives from the CWA, IFSC, ABC, DAV, CEC, FASI, and several leading national federations held a meeting to discuss creating an international working
group to facilitate the sharing of hygiene, social distancing, and operational guidance. These
organisations have their own internal task forces working towards developing best practices for their
respective localities, however by coordinating information and advice the international indoor
climbing industry can deliver stronger and more defensible arguments to local authorities. This work
group will meet weekly for an indefinite period of time as each organisation works to deliver
information in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They agreed to release the following statement:

Quote
If there is one word that defines the indoor climbing industry above all others it is community. Many
other sports and businesses use this word but very few see it manifest in their everyday interactions
with peers, customers, and employees at the same level that we enjoy. The COVID-19 pandemic has
impacted every climbing gym, every owner, every competition, and every climber. What everyone
wants to know is: When and how can I get back into my gym? In order to help provide guidance that
will make climbers, parents, and employees feel as comfortable as possible several of the world’s
climbing organizations have joined together to share information internationally.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2020, 01:55:12 pm by shark »

shark

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Update:

On Tuesday May 5th, the International Climbing Leadership Working Group held a video conference to discuss the state of the indoor climbing industry as countries begin to explore reopening procedures and timelines.

The group discussed status updates in their respective countries, areas of possible international cooperation, the ways in which each group influences their local and national governments, and public communication about the indoor climbing industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The group agreed that there is no current scientific evidence that supports the need to sanitize climbing holds between use or daily to reduce risk when good personal hygiene is practiced. A similar conclusion is evident in the recommendations of the leading health organizations of the world that place contact transmission behind droplet and respiratory transmission and that recommend hygiene measures as an effective strategy for mitigation.

Furthermore, the sanitization of climbing holds between use or daily is commercially impracticable. Very similarly other businesses, such as retail stores, are not being advised to sanitize individual items or all customer facing equipment.
 
It was also agreed that it is unlikely that additional environmental controls are needed in mechanical or HVAC devises. Hospitals, public health authorities, and experts in air pollution control are not advising that ventilation systems be turned off as the risk in restaurants, retail businesses, and offices are estimated to be very low.
 
This group will continue to meet weekly and is actively discussing all ongoing developments and attempting to forecast and create strategies for other possible questions and issues that are not currently covered by existing guidance.

The amount of international collaboration and the swift responsiveness of our community is truly impressive. As many gyms in the world open up over the next several months we will no doubt continue to see business leaders around the world rush to support each other and get the indoor climbing industry back towards the growth and success that we have enjoyed for many years.

Rich Emerson
Chair Association of British Climbing Walls

kelvin

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My friend's boulder gym in Switzerland now has permission to open.

kelvin

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My friend's boulder gym in Switzerland now has permission to open.

SA Chris

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BMC Statement on reopening now live on Facebook.

petejh

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...........
Hospitals, public health authorities, and experts in air pollution control are not advising that ventilation systems be turned off as the risk in restaurants, retail businesses, and offices are estimated to be very low.
..........
Rich Emerson
Chair Association of British Climbing Walls


Only just noticed this. I wish any climbing wall business well. But the statement from the ABC about air circulation in restaurants, offices etc. being 'very low risk', seems to be at odds with some other well-informed people's interpretation of the evidence.


Restaurants: Some really great shoe-leather epidemiology demonstrated clearly the effect of a single asymptomatic carrier in a restaurant environment. The infected person (A1) sat at a table and had dinner with 9 friends. Dinner took about 1 to 1.5 hours. During this meal, the asymptomatic carrier released low-levels of virus into the air from their breathing. Airflow (from the restaurant's various airflow vents) was from right to left. Approximately 50% of the people at the infected person's table became sick over the next 7 days. 75% of the people on the adjacent downwind table became infected. And even 2 of the 7 people on the upwind table were infected

Workplaces: Another great example is the outbreak in a call center (see below). A single infected employee came to work on the 11th floor of a building. That floor had 216 employees. Over the period of a week, 94 of those people became infected (43.5%: the blue chairs). 92 of those 94 people became sick (only 2 remained asymptomatic). Notice how one side of the office is primarily infected, while there are very few people infected on the other side.  While exact number of people infected by respiratory droplets / respiratory exposure versus fomite transmission (door handles, shared water coolers, elevator buttons etc.) is unknown. It serves to highlight that being in an enclosed space, sharing the same air for a prolonged period increases your chances of exposure and infection.  Another 3 people on other floors of the building were infected, but the authors were not able to trace the infection to the primary cluster on the 11th floor. Interestingly, even though there were considerable interaction between workers on different floors of the building in elevators and the lobby, the outbreak was mostly limited to a single floor (ref). This highlights the importance of exposure and time in the spreading of SARS-CoV2.


Indoor spaces, with limited air exchange or recycled air and lots of people, are concerning from a transmission standpoint. We know that 60 people in a volleyball court-sized room (choir) results in massive infections. Same situation with the restaurant and the call center.  Social distancing guidelines don't hold in indoor spaces where you spend a lot of time, as people on the opposite side of the room were infected.

The principle is viral exposure over an extended period of time. In all these cases, people were exposed to the virus in the air for a prolonged period (hours). Even if they were 50 feet away (choir or call center), even a low dose of the virus in the air reaching them, over a sustained period, was enough to cause infection and in some cases, death.

Social distancing rules are really to protect you with brief exposures or outdoor exposures. In these situations there is not enough time to achieve the infectious viral load when you are standing 6 feet apart or where wind and the infinite outdoor space for viral dilution reduces viral load. The effects of sunlight, heat, and humidity on viral survival, all serve to minimize the risk to everyone when outside.

When assessing the risk of infection (via respiration) at the grocery store or mall, you need to consider the volume of the air space (very large), the number of people (restricted), how long people are spending in the store (workers - all day; customers - an hour). Taken together, for a person shopping: the low density, high air volume of the store, along with the restricted time you spend in the store, means that the opportunity to receive an infectious dose is low. But, for the store worker, the extended time they spend in the store provides a greater opportunity to receive the infectious dose and therefore the job becomes more risky.

Basically, as the work closures are loosened, and we start to venture out more, possibly even resuming in-office activities, you need to look at your environment and make judgements. How many people are here, how much airflow is there around me, and how long will I be in this environment. If you are in an open floorplan office, you really need to critically assess the risk (volume, people, and airflow). If you are in a job that requires face-to-face talking or even worse, yelling, you need to assess the risk.

https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them


Based on the contact tracing info above I can't understand how indoor walls can be said to be a low risk environment. Not that this will stop me going indoors this winter if the walls are open. But the risks should be made clear and not over or underplayed. If I was older or had compromised health I'd maybe stay away from indoor walls this year until there was more information on sources of infection (from track/trace).

Will Hunt

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Like Pete, I want walls to open again as soon as possible, mainly to keep the businesses going, but what I read regarding social distancing at the wall was at odds with the blog post that Pete quoted. Social distancing doesn't work indoors if you're there for a prolonged period (i.e. the length of a trip to the wall). Unless there is new evidence out that counters that article?

SA Chris

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I'd love things to go back to normal, but I won't hold my breath.

moose

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Like Pete, I want walls to open again as soon as possible, mainly to keep the businesses going, but what I read regarding social distancing at the wall was at odds with the blog post that Pete quoted. Social distancing doesn't work indoors if you're there for a prolonged period (i.e. the length of a trip to the wall). Unless there is new evidence out that counters that article?

Agree. Unless everything I've previously read has now been superseded, an enclosed space full of heavy breathing, sweaty, panting people, who stay for hours at a time seems almost designed to spread the virus (and that's without any fomite transmission). 

Unless a vaccine or very effective treatment is discovered, I can't imagine working in my office again - a pretty spacious three storey building with only around a dozen people inside at a time, nearly all with individual offices.  Aside from the public health issue, the risk to business continuity would be too great - one infected person could force everyone else to self-isolate and ruin our ability to cover cases for weeks.  The risks at a climbing wall, with lots more people, in an uncompartmented space, and more vigorous breathing seem much higher.  A shame - I like my local wall and its staff - and am concerned about how they are getting on (and this fine weather can't last forever...).
« Last Edit: May 28, 2020, 08:14:23 am by moose »

tomtom

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What Moose said.

(will - I think your point was covered in Pete’s text)

Offwidth

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I think Pete's points are important lessons but wall users are not static users in an enclosed space. A wall is more like a engineering company space where there is a bigger volume of air and people move around..... places where operations continued throughout this crisis. I'm more worried about restaurants and offices than indoor walls.

Will Hunt

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What Moose said.

(will - I think your point was covered in Pete’s text)

When I read it back I realised I'd just paraphrased what Pete had said, but left it up as it had been on my mind prior to Pete's post anyway.

tomtom

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I think Pete's points are important lessons but wall users are not static users in an enclosed space. A wall is more like a engineering company space where there is a bigger volume of air and people move around..... places where operations continued throughout this crisis. I'm more worried about restaurants and offices than indoor walls.

Depends on the size and layout of the wall!! Also - the movement of people can aid and hinder dispersal and concentration.

I know some of the major climbing centres have over 1000 people visit over a weekend (each staying for say 2-3 hours). That’s a far greater concentration of folk than a warehouse for example...

Though going at non busy (early in the day midweek) means you’re one of only a dozen people in a hangar!

Part of my internal justification for building my own woody was that I thought walls will be one of the later things to open - and tbh a place I’d be pretty wary of going to if/when restrictions allow. That’s my view - not everyone’s - and I’ll miss the social aspects a lot (and being able to see if I’ve improved on the board!).

mrjonathanr

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I reac the article previously and it has serious implications for enclosed spaces such as schools and shops.

However, the author is clear that shopping (as opposed to working) in a supermarket is low risk. Primary point is infection risk is a function of proximity x duration of exposure.

In a large air space proximity is effectively minimal. Aerosols circulate though so over extended periods this becomes irrelevant. Air flow direction from an infected person is also a big factor if people are static over an extended period- important for restaurants and classrooms, but people are mobile at the wall.

So the big issues are how big the airspace is, how it is ventilated, and how long you are there. A quick hit in the Depot Woody carries very different risks to a 3 hr evening session at a small wall.

+ TT, think a sensible wall would need to limit numbers, as per supermarkets. Maybe you’d need to book?

tomtom

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Jon - on my FB feed overnight the rules for a bouldering wall chain in Austria were posted (re-opening today?). These included limited entry (total number restricted) with booking required at certain times. Hand hygiene etc.. Importance of maintaining social distancing and the closing of changing rooms/showers.

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Email I got from Little Rock Climbing Centre (very small but air-conditioned wall that’s the only one in a city the size of Derby population-wise) the other day:

Quote from: LRCC

OPEN AGAIN!

We are very excited to announce that we are open again to the public. The staff here has gone to extreme measures to ensure the gym has been completely sanitized. We've also implemented new measures to help maintain social distance and to limit the number of people in the gym. Here’s what you need to know:
 
To meet with the Arkansas Dept. of Health guidelines for gyms, we have implemented the following rules and procedures. Our rope stations will only be open every 12′ with new stations open on a daily rotating basis so you can still enjoy a gym full of routes. We will be checking staff daily for fever and any other symptoms. All the staff will be wearing masks, and we will continue our enhanced cleaning schedules. We will also keep hand sanitizer available for you.

COVID-19 Policies

Face Masks are REQUIRED for anyone entering the building.
Climbers are allowed to remove their masks only while actively exercising.
Hand washing is required before entering the climbing area.
Only climbing shoes are allowed on the climbing walls, no street shoes.
All who enter must be symptom/fever free for 72 hours
No entry for recent travelers to NY, NJ, Conn., New Orleans and over seas.
Gym capacity is limited to 30 climbers at one time.
Reservations are available on our website for 2-hour sessions.
Walk-ins are welcome if there is space available, but we suggest reserving your time in advance.
Minors (12 & under) must be accompanied by their parents, and they will count towards the total climbers in the gym.
Maintain social distancing by keeping a 6-foot distance from others and avoid personal contact.
Please respect others and do not climb on top ropes, auto-belays, lead routes or boulder routes within a 12 foot radius of other climbers who are not your partner.
 
We are looking forward to seeing all of you back here!
 
Logan Wilcoxson
Little Rock Climbing Center

I guess it’s interesting to see how they’re approaching this in different countries.

To put this into context, Arkansas has only had 115 deaths from the virus total and hasn’t had a lockdown, just closures of schools and gyms, etc. When you look at their figures for new cases though they’ve been roughly rising since the start of May so it seems to reflect what’s happening in most US states- “reopening” due to financial imperative/ just being bored of restrictions rather than any sensible reasons. My mates over their think it’s nuts and I’m not inclined to disagree.

 

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