Skip to main content

TYHA/British Marine Statement - 12 May 2020

Back to Boating

On 11th May 2020 the UK Government published their COVID-19 recovery strategy which provided key information regarding what the population can do away from their homes. The strategy identifies that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, therefore the Government has updated the rules (subject to social distancing protocols) so that:

  • As well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors
  • People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish
  • People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance
  • Day trips to outdoor open space, in a private vehicle, are permitted

Considering this in the context of the UK Governments COVID-19 Recovery Strategy and associated documents, British Marine and TYHA conclude that the re-opening 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.

Customers will be able to visit their boat for basic maintenance and preparing for the season ahead.

It should be noted however that the government does not permit the population to leave their homes to ‘stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose’ this suggests that staying overnight on a boat must not happen.

Although Government restrictions on outdoor activities will be lifted from tomorrow (13th May 2020), many of our member’s facilities have not had the time to implement the measures set out by government to safely manage the gather of people on their sites.  British Marine would encourage all berth holders to contact their mooring provider ahead of any travel to ensure the facility is open.

British Marine also 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 expect specific Government advice to be published very shortly confirming that certain on-water activities and water sports will be able to start, however certain activities on different navigations may still face restrictions.

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.

British Marine will provide further information from Government as soon as this has been made publicly available.

This statement supersedes the COVID-19 guidance for TYHA & British Marine members 26th March 2020 (version 2).

Advice for marine businesses operating on the Canal River Trust waterways

British Marine and TYHA are acutely aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on waterway businesses and have been working to provide trade support to businesses that underpin the canal leisure boating industry, all whilst respecting the UK Government directive to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives and social distancing measures. Working closely with members and the Canal & River Trust (CRT), British Marine and TYHA have created a set of guidelines for inland waterway businesses to follow before any vessel is moved for commercial purposes.


British Marine and TYHA support Government policy permitting those to travel to their place of work if they cannot perform that function from home.  However, as outlined in the British Marine: Back to Business webinar last Friday, it is important that each business considers the impact that their activities have on their staff and others during any trade movement of boats on CRT managed waterways.   

Guidance documents

Guidelines to follow before commencing a commercial vessel movement

  • Boats only to be moved by marine business employees or appointed contractors who apply social distancing measures (2m minimum) and wear appropriate PPE.
  • Professionals moving boats to wear life preservers and high visibility waistcoats (or similar)
  • The boat displays signage (visible from nearside and offside) confirming that it is being moved for trade purposes (recommended minimum length of 1m). The sign should display the following information:
    • the words “TRADE BOAT MOVE”
    • Name of Business
    • Contact Number
  • CRT trade plates are used if the boat does not have a current licence
  • CRT’s local Boating Business Manager is notified prior to the move commencing.  For a full list, please click here

Please note, in support of the UK Governments directive to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives it should be emphasised that this industry position is not intended to encourage private boat owners or leisure customers to leave their homes through this guidance.