As the world continues to struggle with the pandemic, many areas are beginning to cautiously reopen. Depending on the where you are, social distancing and other requirements appropriately remain, but businesses are carefully transitioning back into operation – including dive shops. Although in many areas we’re still waiting to restart, throughout most of the world access to diving is widening. If you’ve not gotten back to your dive shop and the water yet, in most areas you can now or will be able to soon. Thanks to regular updates from the PADI global community, you can see where diving’s open on the PADI COVID-19 Scuba Diving Status Map.
Your PADI Dive Center Is Ready
How COVID-19 affects diving is not only a natural question, but one we should be asking. It’s reassuring to know that your PADI dive shop has been ramping up for this. Protocols for distancing, disinfection, medical evaluations and other COVID-19 issues have been posted by DAN (Divers Alert Network) and UHMS (Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society). Globally, thousands of PADI® Dive Resorts, Dive Centers and Instructors are accessing best-practices and webinars by the PADI Regional Headquarters in multiple languages. If you haven’t already, you’ll be seeing this poster highlighting eight simple steps that we can take as divers, posted on websites and at your local dive shop. Safety is job one at every PADI shop, and COVID-19 is no exception.
Like everything we do in the near-term, we have to take some extra precautions, but they easy and reasonable. As an example, check out this video that PADI Five Star Dive Resort Mares Ecuador (Puerto Lopez, Ecuador) posted. Like anything we do that involves other people in the pandemic, risk isn’t zero, but steps to manage it while diving are very doable.
As Soon As You Can Go, Go
With travel restrictions and some inconveniences, I’m sure some divers ponder sitting out for a while. While we all want the pandemic behind us for sure, there are some silver linings to hitting the water as soon as local guidelines allow.
1. Less crowded. To accommodate social distancing, many dive sites and most dive boats will have fewer people. That’s more room for you (good), but harder on them economically (bad), so please do as much business with them as you can (e.g. buying food/snacks), and remember the crew tip.
2. More personal classes. Similarly, your dive shop will likely keep individual PADI courses a bit smaller. This means more individual attention when you want it, and more opportunities to work closely (figuratively if not physically) with your instructors, mentors and buddies. So, don’t postpone the water work that completes the PADI eLearning® you’ve been doing – in this respect, this is one of the best times to be learning.
3. Experience local adventure. There’s interesting, adventurous local diving almost everywhere – even places many people wouldn’t think of. With travel limited, your PADI dive operator will be at the top stops nearby, so if you’ve not been diving much within an easy drive, now’s your chance to check it out. And if you have been, this is a good time to find some new spots to share with other divers.
4. Bring someone. You don’t have to distance from divers who are not socially isolated from you (i.e. someone you live with), so dive together. If you’ve been trying to get such a person into a course or activity, now you even have an excuse – ask for a “favor” (You’re doing them the favor, right?) of doing it with you for the distancing convenience. And socially isolated from you or not, thanks to the psychological stresses of the pandemic grinding us, you probably know lots of people who need the healing power of diving right now – bring them along, too.
5. Save the ocean. The pandemic has been giving the environment a break in a few ways, but when it comes to marine plastics, your favorite dive sites miss you big time! Chances are, litter and single-use plastics have been accumulating, so join your PADI shop and other PADI Torchbearers in making some of your first dives Project AWARE® Dive Against Debris® dives.
Finally, as I said in my last blog this is a very tough time for your PADI dive shop. Responsibly opening economies helps, but they are not out of the woods yet, to be sure. But, your participation in diving and diver training, brings them that much closer.
Stay well, connected and committed,
President & CEO PADI Worldwide