The entire world has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for over one and a half years. Tourism industry, including the scuba diving industry in Indonesia has been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Scuba diving companies struggle and unfortunately will likely continue to struggle until people feel safe to travel and dive again. It’s normal to have concerns about going on a scuba diving trip during this time. How are the travel arrangements? Will the boat be crowded? How to safely eat and drink with other people around? And what about the sterilization of the gear especially if you have to rent? These concerns are completely valid.
The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (Kemenparekraf) and several members of the Association of Professional Diving Instructors (PADI) have compiled guidelines for the health protocol for scuba diving tourism during the adaptation of the new normal. There are additional guides when compared to before the pandemic and during the pandemic, one of which is the disinfection of diving equipment necessary to reduce the risk of transmission that can be implemented by dive centers and diving liveaboards. But what can you do to protect yourself during a dive trip when you decide to go?
The first and most important rule in this protocol is that you should be in good health to do activities in tourism areas. Most of the scuba diving destinations in Indonesia are located in remote areas. So be mindful to not only protect yourself but also protect the local people. Get tested before you decide to travel. This goes hand in hand with domestic travel regulation in Indonesia as you are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. Some destinations require the test taken 24-72 hours prior travel dates. Make sure that you always check the updated regulations before travelling. During emergency activities restriction (PPKM), travelling by plane requires you to be vaccinated, at least first dose.
It is recommended to bring your own diving equipment. You’ll have more control of your own gear and could minimize contact by not having anyone else to touch it. And if you have to rent, make sure the equipment has been properly disinfected and take good care of it for the duration of your dive trip. Do not use your saliva to prevent mask fogging. Instead, use baby shampoo or any kind of defog solution or spray. Keep your equipment in the same container and away from others to avoid being contaminated. You may ask your diving operators to provide a special container for each participant of this tour.
During the trip, try to spend more time in an open area with good air circulation, like on the outside deck area on a liveaboard. It’s never a bad idea to always wear your mask properly while not diving. Maintain social distancing with other divers and crews. If you need to eat or drink, find a space away from others. Always practice proper hygiene, it’s always a good thing to be extra careful.
Many of the dive operators in Indonesia are fully vaccinated and it does provide some assurance against the infections. Get yourself vaccinated to give you extra protection. Always check and find information about the dive destination to help you decide if it’s safe to dive. Check the COVID-19 updates on the destinations, how many cases are there? Is the trend declining or inclining? Dive with a reputable operator and always follow the safety guidelines.
Lastly, it won’t hurt to check the cancelation policy of the dive operator just to be safe in case you have to reschedule or even cancel your trip. Hopefully this information is useful for those of you who want to dive right now. Safe travels!