With over 7,000 islands, the Philippines surely has a lot for us to explore. Besides its magnificent landscapes, our country has endless underwater wonders that deserve just as much attention. But during the new normal, how exactly do we do that?
The Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) under the Department of Tourism (DOT) has released updated guidelines for scuba diving during COVID-19. Under the PCSSD Memorandum Circular No. 2020-001 and the PCSSD Administrative Order No. 2020–001, both divers and dive establishments have new protocols to follow for safe scuba diving experiences for everyone.
Scuba diving during COVID-19
COVID-19 protocols for divers
Under the memoranda, divers must present a negative RT-PCR upon arriving at a diving establishment under community quarantine. The test must have been taken within 48 hours of the diver’s arrival. Divers are also expected to bring their own scuba gear and disinfectants.
As expected from everyone during COVID-19, divers must also practice social distancing and the wearing of face masks whenever they’re out of water. These protocols must be observed even on boat rides before dives.
COVID-19 protocols for dive establishments
Dive establishments are required to secure a PCSSD accreditation or a DOT Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO) to operate at 50% operational capacity during COVID-19. They must also be equipped with defog solutions (soap and shampoo) for divers. Dive establishments must also disinfect their dive boats after every use.
Physical training for scuba divers is discouraged, but allowed as long as there is proper physical distancing among students and instructors. One-on-one classes are highly recommended.
On 9 Oct 2020, Malacañang announced that dive establishments under GCQ and MGCQ will be allowed to reopen to guests from GCQ and MGCQ areas. With this, scuba diving during COVID-19 has become a possibility for many travellers. DOT advocates for safe and responsible travels as these destinations reopen.
“Our priority remains the same with the reopening of diving and sports tourism,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. “By following these guidelines, we continue to uphold the safety and well-being of the tourists and the industry workforce.”