We are sure that you have many questions and concerns regarding safety of scuba diving amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We want to assure all of our guests that our biggest priority remains ensuring your safety at all times, and we are taking extra precautions now to fulfill that commitment.
Rest assured, scuba diving is still a very safe activity even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That said, we have put new procedures in place to further reduce the risk of virus transmission. As is our practice in general when it comes to diving, we always err on the side of caution. By following these new operating procedures, we are adding more assurance that you will be able to enjoy diving without worrying about COVID-19.
As of July 2020, there are no longer any confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the area of Krabi, Thailand. However, we understand that we must remain vigilant as Thailand begins to open its borders and normal life resumes again.
Please find our complete updated procedures below:
COVID-19 SAFETY PRECAUTIONS & STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES – SEA GYPSY DIVERS
In this document, we have compiled specific safety precautions and operating procedures that Sea Gypsy Divers will adopt for the foreseeable future in order to reduce disease transmission risk of COVID-19. The points listed here all appear in articles published by DAN and PADI, and represent those considerations that most apply to our specific operation. For the complete articles, please refer to the following:
- DAN – COVID-19 and Diving Operations – 10 Recommendations on Risk Prevention and Mitigation
- PADI – Best Practices to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission Risk
- All guests and staff must wear a facemask when in close proximity to others, including on the boat, in the office, and in the classroom.
- Social distancing guidelines apply above water. People should maintain at least 2 meters / 6 feet distance. Underwater, social distancing isn’t necessary as there is no significant risk of disease transmission while breathing from your own regulator underwater.
- All guests and staff should frequently wash their hands and avoid unnecessary physical contact. We will provide an ample supply of alcohol hand gel and disinfectant wipes.
- All guests and staff should avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Rental Equipment Considerations:
- We will disinfect all of our rental equipment using a chlorine solution of 22 ml household bleach per 1 liter water (0.1% concentration of sodium hypochlorite).
- We will soak the equipment in the solution for 5 minutes, followed by thorough rinsing with fresh water.
- Once dry, we will use biodegradable silicone wrap around any parts of equipment that make contact with the face or mouth (masks, snorkels, regulators, BCD oral inflators).
- Only authorized Sea Gypsy Divers staff will be allowed inside the equipment storage room. Staff are required to wash/sanitize their hands upon entry.
- For equipment fitting, our staff will bring the item from the equipment room to the guest. Guests must wash/sanitize their hands before and after trying on the items. We will immediately separate and/or disinfect each piece of equipment after fitting.
Dive Center / Office Considerations:
- When possible, we will always encourage guests to complete booking and check-in procedures online. Small, indoor areas are more risky for COVID-19 transmission, and our online procedures make it unnecessary for guests to enter our office in most cases.
- When people must enter the office, we will check their temperature, ensure their use of facemasks, and ensure their use of hand sanitizer.
- We will conduct interactions outdoors whenever feasible.
- We will regularly disinfect all surfaces inside the office, including every time immediately after a guest leaves.
- The Thailand National Parks Department has specified a maximum 70% passenger capacity on the boat to ensure proper social distancing.
- Even if social distancing rules are respected, winds may carry exhaled droplets further than under normal conditions. Therefore, all guests should wear facemasks on the boat.
- There will be an ample supply of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes on the boat, which we encourage guests to use frequently, especially before and after touching gear.
- There will be no shared rinse buckets for masks and gear. There will still be a rinse bucket for cameras and other equipment that does not pose transmission risk.
- No one should spit into the mask to defog it. Defogging solution is provided on the boat.
- When exiting the water, keep your mask on and regulator in your mouth until out of the water and distanced from others. There is fresh flowing water on the boat for rinsing off.
- No one should touch any tank cylinder valve outlet, or any first stage regulator inlet.
- When using rental gear, only authorized Sea Gypsy Divers staff will assemble the equipment on the boat, with the exception of training courses. Certified fun divers using rental gear are welcome to complete their normal predive safety checks after our staff have initially assembled and disinfected the gear.
- When using your own gear, you are the only one responsible for assembling, disassembling, and handling your own personal equipment.
Buddy Check Considerations:
- Maintain social distance by conducting the buddy check visually and verbally.
- We should not test-breathe from the alternate air source during the buddy check, since it may pose an infection risk if your buddy must subsequently breathe from it underwater. We recommend test-breathing the alternate sometime after initial gear setup, then immediately disinfecting it afterwards.
- During the buddy check and up until entering the water, keep your mask on and regulator in your mouth until you are in the water at a safe distance from others.
- In the classroom, our staff will enforce social distancing rules and facemask use at all times.
- For teaching any skills involving alternate air source use, we will ensure the alternate is disinfected before starting the skill, and also ensure that it is always the same buddy who is breathing from the same alternate, and not mixing with others.
- During out-of-air practice scenarios requiring oral BCD inflation at the surface, the buddy of the person practicing oral inflation must keep the mask on and regulator in at all times, maintaining social distance but within immediate reach.
- During any skills involving breathing from the snorkel or clearing the snorkel at the surface, the snorkel outlet must be angled away from all other people nearby.
If you have any questions about this information, please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask.