Bargee Travellers who are shielding and waterway enforcement
According to the Government, everyone who was shielding because the Government defined them as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ has now been told that they can stop shielding as from 1st August. Some people will continue to shield due to either medical advice or to keep themselves as safe as possible. Not every Bargee Traveller who has been shielding will feel safe enough to start moving.
If you do not feel safe to start moving again and you have a health condition that puts you at high risk or at very high risk of severe illness if you contract coronavirus, the NBTA advises that you do what you think keeps you safe, but also discuss this with the relevant navigation authority and tell the authority what you are doing and why. If you need any help or support in dealing with the navigation authority, please contact the NBTA.
In the case of CRT, the NBTA has been informed that CRT will expect “a certain degree of movement” after 1st August 2020 from Bargee Travellers who have been shielding. However, CRT has stated that it will carry out enforcement against this group as gently as possible, and will consider each boater’s situation on a case-by-case basis. This may include agreeing reduced cruising patterns that avoid risks of close contact with other people such as when going through locks. CRT states that it will require medical evidence, but that this does not have to be the NHS letter sent in March or April advising an individual to shield for three months. Not all Bargee Travellers with health conditions that make them ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ will have received this letter from the NHS, due to difficulties registering with a GP or due to not having access to a postal address.
Social distancing should continue to be maintained throughout the waterways. See https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Boat Safety Scheme (BSS)
The temporary extension to recently expired Boat Safety certificates ended on 31st July, so all boats that were covered by this waiver now need to have a new Boat Safety certificate. If any Bargee Travellers are having difficulty finding an examiner, they should inform the navigation authority. If you are threatened with enforcement or late payment charges as the result of being unable to book a boat safety examination, please contact the NBTA if you need any assistance.
Canal & River Trust (CRT) waterways: local coronavirus restrictions
The Government has announced local coronavirus restrictions in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire. This means that separate households cannot meet each other at home, including on boats. CRT waterways in these areas remain open, but only members of the same household or support bubble should be on board a boat at any one time. These restrictions also apply in Leicester, but with pubs, cafes and restaurants now able to re-open in Leicester, the waterway through Leicester is re-opening for boating.
Environment Agency (EA) waterways open
The EA waterways are open including most locks where there is assisted passage, with social distancing required and a reduced service as lockkeepers may be covering more than one lock. The EA has resumed accepting payments for temporary and full boat registration at many of its sites sites including Allington Lock on the River Medway, Hermitage Lock, Denver Complex and Northampton Marina on the Anglian Waterways and Teddington Lock on the River Thames. It aims to resume taking payments at other sites as soon as is it is safe and practicable to do so.
However the EA is only able to accept card payments at the moment and customers are requested to wear a face mask.
See the following EA websites for the latest information:
Anglian Waterways: https://www.visitanglianwaterways.org/
River Medway: http://allingtonlock.co.uk/home.php
Mooring enforcement on EA waterways appears to be back to what it was before the pandemic. The EA has warned that enforcement of mooring stay times at its own temporary mooring sites has now resumed.
See the latest EA update here 20200729_FINAL_approved NAV_Guidance_Note_8
Middle Level and other waterways
The Middle Level waterways are open with social distancing where staff are working outdoors. The Middle Level Commissioners’ (MLC) offices have now reopened to public visits, on a need only basis and by appointment only with 7 days’ notice. The MLC have requested that boaters contact them by phone, email or video conference.
Most other navigation authorities’ waterways are open, subject to social distancing requirements.