Through well planned measures, international cooperation and a reasonable degree of personal responsibility, solutions can be found to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection in climbing gyms. This strategy outline is intended to provide a basis for this goal, while at the same time making it easier for national authorities to decide whether to allow gyms to reopen.
The strategy outline is to be understood as work in process, and will be extended and updated in the course of the next weeks together with various authors and contributors. We communicate with representatives of the industry from all over the world and monitor what is happening on a scientific level in order to incorporate new findings and ideas. We invite everyone to share suggestions and input with us.
Authors and contributors: Christian Popien, Matthias Polig, Christian Benk, Florian Schiffer, Ged MacDomhnaill, Christoph Gotschke, Peter Zeidelhack, Maria Hilber, Cody Roth
In order to pool resources and develop national, European and international solutions, a transnational working group will gather knowledge and measures for this strategy proposal and outline. Key multipliers from individual countries can share and disseminate this information with their national representatives and their respective gyms. It will be an ongoing process, always taking into account the latest scientific findings and new input and ideas.
In particular, the exchange of experience beyond national borders makes it possible to take a broader look at different scenarios. Findings from national experiences and studies can be taken into account and incorporated in the preparation of a further strategy proposal.
The goal is to create a strategy proposal focused on workable solutions that will make it easier for national authorities to evaluate the reopening climbing gyms. This proposal takes into account scientific findings and current recommendations from experts to provide a helpful and well-founded basis for decisions that health authorities and politicians will have to make.
The proposed measures, which are presented in light of the most current risk analysis are divided into three central cornerstones.
Climbing gyms, like many other sports facilities, have been closed as of March 2020 in most countries in Europe and in many countries worldwide. In several countries a reopening of climbing gyms is currently being discussed or has already been initiated.
In Austria, the climbing gyms are on a path of joint coordination and have analysed the problem in detail. Dieter Schimanek, Managing Director of Naturfreunde Wien Kletterhallen GmbH, comments: "We are aware that three criteria in particular will be decisive in making sensible decisions about a new start for climbing halls: Firstly, all relevant health aspects must be clarified and it must be possible to implement country-specific regulations. Secondly, it must be economically justifiable in the medium term to maintain the operation with the restrictions and the additional expenditure involved despite a decline in turnover. And thirdly, the sporting aspect should not be neglected: The customers must enjoy climbing despite everything and, despite restricted freedom, they must like to come climbing".
A comprehensive outline of strategies and measures to reduce the Covid-19 risk is needed in order to justify a possible reopening and operation of climbing gyms, whilst maintaining the highest level of hygiene standards.