All major navigation authorities have stated that following the Government’s extension of the Coronavirus lockdown to 9th May 2020, boat movement restrictions are to continue until at least 9th May. They advise that boaters should not undertake non-essential travel on the waterways and that navigation should only be to access essential services and facilities. Leisure boating remains suspended.
The only exception to this are the Conservators of the River Cam, who have stated that the towpath remains open and boats can move freely along the river as long as people observe the guidelines around social distancing. They have published coronavirus information for boaters here
Boat Safety Scheme
Boat Safety certificates that are about to expire or have recently expired are now extended until 11 May 2020.
Canal & River Trust (CRT) waterways
CRT has extended its suspension of the 14-day rule until 9th May and has advised that only essential boat movements are permitted until at least this date. CRT’s winter visitor mooring time limits of 14 days unless signed otherwise are now extended until 9th May. No boat sightings will be taken during the period that boat movements are suspended. The charity has furloughed some 200 of its staff whose work is considered to be non-essential at this time. CRT now states that essential boat movement includes moving to a quieter part of the towpath if it is too busy where you are moored.
CRT has so far not responded to the many calls to protect the health of liveaboard boaters by closing towpaths for leisure use, despite vastly increased use by cyclists, runners and walkers. It has merely issued amended guidance telling the public to limit their use of towpaths.
Dave Mendes da Costa, NBTA activist and recently elected CRT Council member said on 10th April “CRT are basing their analysis of where the hotspots are and whether their measures are working on feedback from their customer support teams and social media. Therefore, if you are worried about the level of towpath use in your area, it important that you and those around you let CRT know. Here are some ways to contact: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/contact-us/ways-to-contact-us . Twitter users can use @CRTcontactus. Using https://what3words.com/ is a great way to describe your location.
See CRT’s Boaters’ Update of 16th April and Coronavirus FAQs for boaters:
Environment Agency (EA)
Boat movement restrictions and suspension of assisted passage except to access essential services continues on EA navigations until 9th May at the earliest. As most EA staff are working from home the EA is unable to take card payments for boat registration over the phone or to receive postal applications for registration. The options to pay for registration are temporarily restricted to Direct Debit, payment by bank transfer, or receiving an invoice. The EA remind boaters that they can pay in instalments if they are having difficulty paying, including the un-advertised option of 12 monthly instalments especially if you receive welfare benefits and live aboard. See the EA’s Coronavirus update for boaters April 2020 Guidance Note 3 here:
Other major navigation authorities
The Port of London Authority, Broads Authority, Middle Level Commissioners, Avon Navigation Trust, Peel Holdings (Bridgewater Canal), Basingstoke Canal Authority and National Trust (River Wey Navigations) are all continuing to advise against non-essential boat movements, and assisted passage remains largely suspended except for emergencies until at least 9th May.
Reminder – support groups
The Boaters Covid Support National Network Facebook page has a file that you can download with details of local boaters’ support groups, see https://www.facebook.com/groups/900547300395282/
Most local authorities’ web sites are now advertising a phone number to contact for volunteer help if you are self-isolating and need support with shopping, collecting prescriptions etc.