Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the mountain huts
（Updated on 23rd April）
We would like to express our deepest sympathies to those who are facing any form of hardship due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We also wish to express our sincere respect and gratitude to everyone who supports the medical field under challenging circumstances.
As we approach the major mountain climbing seasons, a state of emergency was declared by the Japanese government throughout Japan to respond to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Mountain huts in the larger mountainous districts like Kamikochi, Tateyama and the Southern Alps reacted to this by planning to suspend their accommodation business until Golden Week (a collection of multiple national holidays in Japan around April-May where citizens take extended breaks) and various transport organizations are also suspending their operation. Further, on 20th April 4 different mountaineering associations released a joint statement calling for self-restraint of mountaineering.
Over the days, we can expect to see increasing effects of the pandemic to the operation of mountain huts and social environment related to outdoor activities.
Our mountain hut would like to continue to observe how the situation changes over time, develop countermeasures and engage in an active knowledge sharing towards the mountain climbers.
The countermeasures currently under consideration are as follows:
First of all, I must say that the mountain huts are an environment where it is difficult to enforce social distancing rules. With this in mind, we will devise any countermeasures with extra precaution.
About Accommodation visits and reservations
We currently take bookings, but as a temporary measure we are limiting the bookings to 30 people per day.
We will react to any changes as follows:
- If the situation gets worse and if we need to further limit the accommodation business or completely suspend it, we will notify everyone who has made a booking and update our website to share any decisions we make.
- If the situation gets better, we will loosen the booking restrictions and update our website to share the details.
- When we are open for accommodation business, we will put into consideration social distancing and ensure there is adequate space between bedding in the rooms as well as separate rooms per groups.
Note: The operation days is currently displayed to be 10th July to 15th October, however this is subject to change depending on the situation.
We are pending for decisions on dining in the mountain hut, since we will need to adjust according to the situation during the date the mountain hut opens for business. However, it is highly unlikely that the novel coronavirus outbreak will end completely before Summer. Therefore, we are planning for the following sequential countermeasures for dining area visits:
- If we restrict visitors to around 40 and mostly only accept visitors with bookings: we will open adequate space in between seats in the dining area to ensure social distancing, avoid causing crowds to gather and limit the number of people entering the dining area. Cafeteria, dinner and breakfast menu are all available to overnight guests only.
- If we further restrict the number of visitors (around 20) and only accept visitors with bookings: In addition to the measures above, we may consider reducing cafeteria menu offerings and reducing the opening hours, since we may reduce the number of staff depending on the scale of business.
- If we only operate the camping site: Mountain hut dining area and toilet will not be available for use.
Note: If we suspend all business, any facilities at the mountain hut including the camping site will not be available for use.
About maintenance of a clean and hygienic environment in the mountain hut during accommodation business hours
- We will stock and place various sanitizers
- We will perform regular disinfection inside the hut
- We will ensure staff members wear face masks
- We will assist with the isolation of mountain climbers or staff with symptoms such as fever, and cooperate with prefectural police, disaster prevention teams and health centers to prepare situational countermeasures
About the camping site
There is a chance we may scale down or suspend the business in the mountain hut, and still have the camp site operating as normal. In such situation, there will be increasing concerns for mountain climbers to be excessively concentrated at the campsite. Currently the national park system does not have any process or authority to restrict access to mountains or limit the use of campsites. Hence, if we don’t take any measures, there are possibilities that unexpected confusion will occur.
Mountain huts have been taking responsibility for socially beneficial functions such as mountain rescue systems and maintenance of mountain trails. If these systems could not be managed due to the scale-down of business of the mountain huts, various problems may occur to the mountain climbing environment.
As we approach the major mountain climbing seasons, related parties are discussing and putting together certain action guidelines. However, the outcomes depend on how the circumstances changes, and it is possible for the situation and decision to be different depending on the region.
To all mountain climbers, please review all necessary information beforehand and act with precaution.
Note: Depending on future conditions of the society and mountaineers, we at Kumonodaira Mountain Hut are considering making the campground open only to visitors with prior booking.