Published

17 June 2021

We have been engaging with DEFRA on how the proposed steps of the Government’s roadmap, announced in February, should be interpreted for people using the inland waterways in England (different timescales, rules and guidance will apply in Scotland and Wales).

The dates for the steps listed below are subject to confirmation by Government on updates to their roadmap, available on the government website.

can i go boating or visit my boat?

See the latest boating restrictions.

For specific information about using the waterways in your area please consult the website of the relevant navigation authority. At this time of year river navigations may have Strong Stream Warnings in place. When you are able to take part in boating activities, some waterways may still have closures in place for routine maintenance or planned works so please do check in advance.

Can I canoe or Paddleboard?

Canoeing, rowing and using other unpowered craft are permitted. See the latest restrictions below. You should stay within government guidelines for permitted exercise.

Can i visit the waterways?

You can continue to use towpaths and riverside paths for exercise in all areas, but you must follow social distancing rules. Please keep your distance from other people and moored boats. Many lengths of towpaths are less than 2 metres wide, so it can be difficult to keep to the Government’s safe distance guidelines. This is particularly difficult where boats are moored. Please keep moving and take extra care on narrow sections.

Covid-19 Lockdown Easing Roadmap for Waterways

Step 1a (from 8th March)

Private boats: Although some limited recreational boating activities are permitted at this stage, movement is limited and the instruction is to stay local (in the village, town or part of the city where you live). Boating can only take place on open air vessels (ie no cabins) for the purposes of recreation on waterways accessible to the public. Single household/bubble only per boat. Stay local and minimise time spent away from home. Overnight stays are only permitted where the boat is your permanent residence or it is necessary for work, education or similar reasons. Those who live aboard their boats should limit their travel to accessing essential services and facilities only. Essential maintenance of boats specifically for safety related issues and to ensure compliance, eg with the Boat Safety Scheme, is allowed.

Self Drive Day Hire: Allowed only on open air vessels (ie no cabins) for the purposes of recreation on waterways accessible to the public. Single household/bubble only per boat. Stay local and minimise time spent away from home.

Hotel Boats/Self Drive Holiday Hire/Skippered Boats: Not permitted.

Fixed Trading Boats: Takeaway only (no alcohol).

Watersport activity: Permitted for recreation on waterways accessible to the public. 2 people or 1 household only. Stay local and minimise time spent away from home. (Subject to complying with restrictions around water sport facilities which remain closed with limited exceptions until 29 March).

 

Step 1b (from no earlier than 29th March*)

Private boats: Local boat movement only and you should avoid travelling if your boat is not located close to where you live. No overnight stays (except for liveaboard boaters).

Self Drive Day Hire: Up to 6 people or 2 households per boat (if vessel is open air). Single household (if vessel is enclosed).

Hotel Boats/Self Drive Holiday Hire: Not permitted.

Skippered Boats: Boats may accommodate a maximum of 6 people or two households (where boats are not enclosed), or a single household/support bubble (if vessel is enclosed). Where boats are partially enclosed, attendees may only go indoors to access/use the toilet. The skipper does not count towards the Rule of 6 or the 2 households limit. Boats should be used during daytime hours only and travel should be minimised.

Passenger Boats: Passenger boat services operating as public transport can reopen subject to a risk assessment, adhering to social distancing rules and wider guidance. A single household/support bubble can travel together on public transport as long as they follow social contact rules and don’t mix with anyone outside their household/support bubble.

Fixed Trading Boats: Takeaway only (no alcohol).

Watersport activity: Formal club activity can restart. Private groups of 6 people / 2 households.

Step 2 (from no earlier than 12th April*)

Private boats: Overnight stays permitted (single household only).

Hotel Boats: Single household bubble per booking (no sharing of facilities).

Self Drive Day Hire: Up to 6 people or 2 households per boat (if vessel is open air). Single household (if vessel is enclosed). (same as Step 1b)

Self Drive Holiday Hire: Single household per boat.

Skippered Boats: Skippered boats can accommodate larger numbers, provided businesses ensure that people do not mix beyond groups of 6 people or two households. Outdoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for work purposes, or supervised activities for children).

Passenger Boats: Passenger boat services operating as public transport can reopen subject to a risk assessment, adhering to social distancing rules and wider guidance. A single household/support bubble can travel together on public transport as long as they follow social contact rules and don’t mix with anyone outside their household/support bubble.

Fixed Trading Boats: Outdoor table service. 6 people / 2 households per booking.

Watersport activity: Formal club activity allowed. Private groups of up to 6 people / 2 households. (Same as Step 1b.)

Step 3 (from no earlier than 17th May*)

Private boats: 6 people / 2 households per boat indoors

Hotel Boats: 6 people / 2 households per booking.

Self Drive Day Hire: No restrictions (if vessel is open air). Up to 6 people or 2 households per boat (if vessel is enclosed).

Self Drive Holiday Hire: 6 people / 2 households per boat.

Skippered Boats: Skippered boats can accommodate larger numbers, provided businesses ensure that people do not mix beyond groups of 6 people or two households. Indoor and outdoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for work purposes, or supervised activities for children).

Passenger Boats: Passenger boat services operating as public transport can reopen subject to a risk assessment, adhering to social distancing rules and wider guidance. A single household/support bubble can travel together on public transport as long as they follow social contact rules and don’t mix with anyone outside their household/support bubble.

Fixed Trading Boats: Up to 30 people per booking outdoors. Up to 6 people or 2 households per booking indoors.

Watersport activity: Private groups of up to 30 people.

Step 4 (from no earlier than 19th July*)

No restrictions in place, although this is subject to review.

*Additional Notes

The information above has been agreed with DEFRA, who have also provided the following information:

On 22 February, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England. The design of the roadmap has been informed by the latest scientific evidence and seeks a balance between our key social and economic priorities, whilst preserving the health and safety of the country. The scientific evidence shows that opening too early or too quickly risks a further lockdown.

The approach focuses on data, not dates. Each step has a “no earlier than” date, 5 weeks later than the previous step, to allow time to assess the impact of the previous step and provide a week’s notice before changes occur. The steps for easing restrictions will be taken at the same time across England in a national approach, in the absence of a significant regional disparity.

At each step the Government will make an assessment against the following four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

From 29 March, as part of the first step, Stay at Home restrictions will be lifted. The Government will continue to advise that people minimise travel up to and including Step 3. This means avoiding making unnecessary journeys, combining trips and avoiding travel at peak times where possible. People should avoid travelling further than is reasonably necessary to take part in their activity – for instance visiting shops or making use of services closer to home.

All references to permitted activities assume that boats allow for social distancing rules to be adhered to. COVID-Secure guidance will also remain in place up to and including Step 3 (subject to a proposed review of social distancing rules ahead of Step 4)

Premises must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits at each step unless meeting the conditions for a permitted organised gathering. These will be reintroduced at Step 2 for outdoor gatherings and Step 3 for indoor gatherings. These gatherings or events must be operated by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation and can be organised subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for organised sport or exercise, supervised activities for children or a significant life event).

Households/bubbles – Those eligible to form a support bubble will still be able to do so, enabling close contact for many of those in most need of support, and will continue to be counted as part of the same household.

Covid-19 & Our Charity

Our campaigns

Our campaign to support waterway businesses

The image of a narrowboat cruising along the canal is a quintessentially British scene. Sadly, many trip boat companies, hire boat providers and other waterways businesses are under serious threat as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. IWA ran a survey in partnership with Waterways World magazine to better understand the situation being faced. Almost 1500 waterway businesses were contacted.  The responses paint a very bleak picture, with the majority of businesses reporting that they are at significant risk of collapse and some already closing.

Find out more about the actions we have taken to support businesses across the waterways.

Our work campaigning to protect and restore the waterways

We have made a number of changes to the way we work. These changes might affect you, when you contact IWA, or volunteer to help us.

Our staff team is still working from home where possible. We continue to lobby for and raise awareness of the needs of the waterways from our virtual desks. Volunteers all have access to cloud and digital meeting software to ensure the important campaigning and meetings they are holding can continue online.

Our events

Events organised by your local branch

Where possible your local branch have been moving their public and social meetings online. We have also introduced a programme of speakers that all members will be able to access – there are some very good speakers and topics you might be interested in.

Book your place for future live stream events or catch up with on demand videos.  More than 30 hours of recordings are now available to watch online. Check out IWA TV.

Our national events

IWA Canalway Cavalcade has been postponed until 2022. IWA Festival of Water is still scheduled to go ahead in Perdiswell Park, Worcester in August this year.

For our 2021 Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camps, we continue to review the situation as it develops. Please check back for updates.

How can I stay in touch with IWA?

IWA members will continue to receive Waterways magazine and exclusive member discounts. You can also read back issues of Waterways magazine online.

We are working on extra benefits to offer members that find themselves at home a lot more than usual – such as waterways talks and socials. Joining online meetings is really straightforward. All you’ll need is the website link we forward to you and access to a tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop.

Your support continues to help protect and restore the country’s precious waterway network of canals and rivers.

IWA branches & restoration groups

Guidance for running work parties

Guidance is available for waterway restoration groups and IWA branches. This guidance will be reviewed regularly. Read our guidance on running work parties PDF (last reviewed 07/04/21).

You can also download additional resources including a risk assessment template, template management plan and display notice.