Climbing the walls during Covid

Posted by Daniel Middleton on 03/11/2020
What next for walls?

With England facing Lockdown 2, climbing walls are shutting once more. This is just the latest of a long line of challenges facing walls in 2020. Dan Middleton takes a look.

It’s been a torrid time over the last year for many, not least for those in the climbing wall industry. At the start of the year there seemed no end in sight for the spectacular growth in the number and size of facilities. This expansion was needed to meet an incredible explosion in demand, with the latest survey results putting climbing right up there in the top five sports in the country for participation, above even football.

As the end of the year approaches, many in the industry are now wondering if they will still have a viable business come 2021, whilst for some it is already too late and they have been forced to close permanently. The short-term future of walls in England and Wales may look rather different but, overall, unless there is a change in opinion in Government about the importance of keeping facilities including walls open, then the outcome is likely to be the same in both nations.

In England things initially looked bleak, as walls and gyms were forced to close in Merseyside, which was the first area to go into Tier 3 restrictions. Thankfully, this decision was successfully argued against, and the default position now is for walls to stay open when these restrictions are brought in. The announcement of the English Lockdown 2 has thrown all that into disarray, and has resulted in new calls by sporting bodies to keep facilities open.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Depot Climbing, Manchester (@depotmanchester) on

In Wales, the current national lockdown has closed walls which had re-opened later than their English counterparts, and which had already been heavily affected by the ban on crossing first county, then national borders, with no exemptions allowed for the purposes in partaking in sport. The good news there is that once the Welsh lockdown ends on 9 November, walls will be allowed to reopen. What is unclear, as yet, is under what restrictions, if any, this will be allowed, and whether this will enable walls to remain viable.

It is perhaps fair to question why fight and campaign at all to keep these businesses open? After all, they are all mostly commercial enterprises which were able to make a good profit during the boom years. Likewise, whilst there are no easy decisions to be made by those in government these days, surely the health and wellbeing of the public must come first?

It is exactly for this last reason that the BMC is fighting, along with our partner organisations, to reopen walls in England and have those in Wales reopen with minimal restrictions as long as they are Covid secure. As the winter months draw in, safe and welcoming places to exercise become ever more important for mental and physical wellbeing.

WATCH: How to start fingerboarding with our GB Climbing Training Playlist

The benefits of climbing in promoting this are well documented, and walls have taken great strides in becoming as safe as possible when it comes to minimising viral transmission. With the steps in place at the majority of climbing walls, most of us will feel comfortable that we can climb and train in such an environment with minimal risk to ourselves or others.

In addition, there are the knock-on effects to consider if walls close: a lack of opportunities for new participants to enter the sport, no places for junior athletes to compete and train, and reduced opportunities for therapeutic groups to use climbing for confidence building and personal development work. And last but not least, the risk to jobs provided by the industry and the need for these facilities to provide a large proportion of Mountain Training provision.

Behind the scenes, the BMC is talking to and working with a wide array of organisations, supporting the great work being done by the ABC and UKactive in lobbying on behalf walls and gyms, to help keep these valuable places running for all of our benefit. UK Government has been lobbied on our behalf by the Sport & Recreation Alliance and by UKactive, and we’re speaking to Sport England so they can inform and challenge ministers on any evidence used to make decisions.

We’ve also been lobbying at local government level via our links with the Active Partnerships. And in Wales, we’re working through our membership of the Welsh Sports Association to press our case for the importance of walls reopening there without major restrictions later this month.
Whilst the current situation is undoubtedly extremely challenging, rest assured that the BMC will continue to fight with our partners to help get walls open again. Until that happens, check out our resources for home training and getting outside when the weather allows.

WHAT NEXT?

You can also sign this petition, promoted by SRA and UKactive, asking for a recovery fund for sport to be set up to help provide much needed emergency funding for the sector: 


We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.

Did you know that we've just launched a new U27 membership offer for just £1 / month? And with full membership from £1.66 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/join-the-bmc-for-1-month-U27-membership


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 6957 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Southern Sandstone Access: what's changed with the end of lockdown 2?
0
Southern Sandstone Access: what's changed with the end of lockdown 2?

With England’s second lockdown ending this morning (2nd December) and a return to a tier system with climbing walls able to re-open, our request to temporarily avoid all southern sandstone crags is changing…
Read more »

Covid update: What has changed for climbers & walkers in England from 2nd December?
0
Covid update: What has changed for climbers & walkers in England from 2nd December?

Following a parliamentary vote yesterday evening, England’s second lockdown has ended and the country has reverted to a revised version of the tier system in place prior to lockdown.
Read more »

Will a Covid-19 vaccine allow a return to normality?
2
Will a Covid-19 vaccine allow a return to normality?

The recent news that a vaccine has shown effectiveness against Covid-19 is very encouraging. But what does this mean for outdoor goers? Does this mean all climbing and mountaineering will get back to normal after Christmas? Professor Ian Hall of Nottingham University answers a few questions:
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
1
Anonymous User
03/11/2020
Well done the BMC , this time you have decided to recognise that you exist for the benefit of your members and are not in existence to act as spokespeople for the various governments.

You should continue to campaign for climbing walls to remain open wherever practical if they are covid secure and if participants are complying with mask wearing.

Earlier this year the National Park Authorities took a zealous over the top approach to the closure of footpaths in North Wales , Mid Wales and South Wales , the BMC must we watchful of any further attempt to restrict access.

In the past your push back activities were weak and were seen to be weak my many of your members , this time we expect you to zealously guard our freedoms, this is your raison d’etre please do not let us down.

RELATED ARTICLES

Southern Sandstone Access: what's changed with the end of lockdown 2?
0

With England’s second lockdown ending this morning (2nd December) and a return to a tier system with climbing walls able to re-open, our request to temporarily avoid all southern sandstone crags is changing…
Read more »

Covid update: What has changed for climbers & walkers in England from 2nd December?
0

Following a parliamentary vote yesterday evening, England’s second lockdown has ended and the country has reverted to a revised version of the tier system in place prior to lockdown.
Read more »

Will a Covid-19 vaccine allow a return to normality?
2

The recent news that a vaccine has shown effectiveness against Covid-19 is very encouraging. But what does this mean for outdoor goers? Does this mean all climbing and mountaineering will get back to normal after Christmas? Professor Ian Hall of Nottingham University answers a few questions:
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »