The NBTA on Friday 3rd April proposed a set of criteria to assist Canal & River Trust (CRT) to decide whether to close or restrict access to towpaths. These are:
1. Is there a problem with social distancing on this stretch?
2. Does the stretch of towpath mainly consist of moored boats?
3. Would closing the towpath lead to no or very few access issues?
4. Are there clear alternative routes?
If the answers are yes then it would be pragmatic to consider restricting access. This could be piloted in known problem areas quickly and if successful rolled out further. NBTA believes that a blanket closure of towpaths would not be acceptable, but that there are certain areas where keeping the towpaths open to all is currently putting both the public and boaters at risk. CRT has not so far accepted this proposal.
There has been heavy footfall on canal towpaths in some areas with people not observing 2 metre social distancing. Many towpaths are not wide enough for two people to pass at a 2 metre distance, especially when crowded as some have been in the recent fine weather.
CRT’s latest information on using the towpath is here https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/original/41609-coronavirus-update-towpath-use.pdf?v=433a68