Published on: 13 May 2020
British Marine and The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA) issued a statement on Wednesday 13 May, confirming that all forms of watersports, including the use of privately-owned motorised craft, can go ahead.
In Government guidance, issued on 13 May 2020, it is confirmed that: “All forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority) are allowed."
This follows the publication of the Government's COVID-19 Recovery Strategy for England which provided key information regarding what the population can do away from their homes. This included:
- As well as exercise, spending time outdoors
- Exercise outside as many times each day as people wish
- Driving to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance
- Day trips to outdoor open space, in a private vehicle
Considering this in the context of the UK Governments COVID-19 Recovery Strategy and associated documents, British Marine and TYHA conclude that the reopening of marinas (like golf courses), for leisure boating customers, is now permissible subject to the strict compliance to social distancing and hygiene guidelines provided by Government.
Although Government restrictions on outdoor activities have been lifted, many of our member’s facilities have not had the time to implement the measures set out by Government to safely manage the gathering of people on their sites.
British Marine would therefore urge all boat owners to consider the following before they plan a day trip to their boat:
- Plan ahead – ensure the safety of those around you and try to avoid areas that may attract lots of people
- Check with your mooring provider before you travel. Be aware that many facilities may not yet be able to open and this could affect services such as fuel and pump out stations
- Only use your boat if you can apply social distancing at all times, including when mooring your vessel to leave a safe distance from others
- Travel with members of your household only, if no one in the group is displaying COVID-19 symptoms
- You may only meet with people that are not within your household if you apply social distancing. You should not meet with more than one person outside your household
- Be aware of the impact on emergency services if you were to get into difficulties. Think about what action you will take if your boat breaks down – recovery services may not be operating
- Apply all normal sensible safety precautions and always wear a life jacket when on deck
- Pubs and restaurants are not allowed to open as normal – although some may offer takeaway services. Check with any businesses you wish to visit before you leave home
- Be caring and considerate of local residents who may be nervous about the risks of increased numbers of people in the area
It should also be noted that the Government does not permit the population to leave their homes to ‘stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose’ which suggests that staying overnight on a boat must not happen.
British Marine understands that inland navigation authorities and harbour authorities will also have to consider the Government’s latest guidance in respect of what activities will be permitted across all parts of the UK and how they themselves will return to operation.
British Marine can confirm that the Canal & River Trust and the Broads are able to welcome boaters back from today. On the Canal & River Trust waterways short boating trips can take place – avoiding use of locks and any staff-operated structures if possible – providing, as per current Government guidance, boaters do not stay away from home overnight and return to home moorings (where possible).
Guidance for the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland differs and therefore marinas that operate in the UK outside of England should remain closed to leisure customers until they are permitted by their Government to open.
This statement supersedes the COVID-19 guidance for TYHA and British Marine members 26 March 2020 (version 2). The Government Guidance can be found here.
For members wishing to stay up-to-date with the latest developments on COVID-19, please visit our dedicated Coronavirus Hub.