Well done New Zealand!
Today (8th June 2020) Government has reported that there are no active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand. Because of this we will move to Level 1 at midnight tonight! That is a great achievement and the “Team of 5 Million” deserves a big pat on the back for pulling this off!
The restrictions on group activities are now lifted, and life can essentially go back to normal. However, let’s be mindful that some fo us may be out of practice, so take it easy-don’t go throwing yourself at Class V because just because you were paddling like a legend at the end of the summer!
Also, let’s try and make sure we learn from this pandemic experience:
Play it safe.
The Government is still asking us to be mindful of washing hands, good hygiene, cough or sneeze into your elbow and try to keep a track of where you go and who you see (for clubs, pleas just keep a record of who goes on the club trips).
Importantly, we all need to be conscious of helping to support local businesses who may have been economically hard hit by the lockdown. So, what can we do as kayakers? Get out there and go kayaking!!!! But it’s more than that-make sure that you stop for fish and chips on the way home or buy a new sprayskirt or a new throw-bag at your local kayaking shop!
Thanks to everyone for playing their parts in this pandemic response.
On Thursday (14th May) NZ will move into Level 2 Pandemic Alert. Whilst some lucky paddlers were able to get a whitewater fix during the Level 3 Alert over the past couple of weeks, for most of us the shift to Level 2 is likely to be our first chance to get back out on the water.
There is still a risk of community transmission of the virus, which means that we can’t simply go back to paddling as usual. So, please don’t rush into this, play it safe and follow these guidelines for whitewater paddling during the Level 2 Alert:
- Transmission of the virus is most likely whilst travelling in a vehicle, so plan this carefully. Here are some things you can do to reduce the transmission risk while driving shuttles and driving to / from a river trip:
- Drive to and from the river by yourself or create an expanded “shuttle bubble”, and stick to this grouping whilst driving (and on the river, if possible)
- Drive with windows open
- Use good personal hygiene whilst sharing a car
- Stay well within your skill level to reduce the likelihood of needing emergency services.
- Paddle in small groups and try to keep your group exclusive
- Keep a record of who you paddle with
- Use physical distancing wherever possible, particularly at the put-in and take-out, where other people may be present
- Avoid touching each other’s gear, and if this is not possible, disinfect or use hand sanitiser as quickly as possible
- Overnight trips are OK as long as 1m physical distancing is maintained
- If you are sick, have any respiratory, cold or flu-like symptoms, do not go paddling
Advice for clubs:
Small public gatherings are allowed at Level 2, so club activities can take place. However, please follow the rules above and create a documented safety plan including the following points:
- Use Sport New Zealand’s Touch Free Contact Register to record all group participants in club actuivities
- Participants should have no respiratory symptoms and should have had no contact with others with respiratory symptoms in the two weeks prior to the trip
- Four days after the trip, the Trip Leader should check with all trip participants for any respiratory symptoms and notify everybody on the trip if symptoms are observed.
- Disinfect any shared equipment in the same way as you would to prevent the spread of Didymo
Please be mindful that for many of us, we’ve not been out on the water for a while, so we may be out of practice. That means taking extra precautions around rescue provisions and general river safety.
Use your common sense – don’t rush into this, play it safe and be kind!