Canal & River Trust (CRT) has announced a phased return to navigation with short day trips permitted from 13th May 2020; from 23rd May, enforcement of the 14-day rule will resume and visitor moorings will revert to summer time limits. By 6th June boaters without a home mooring should have resumed movement every 14 days. The exception to this is liveaboards who need to shield or self-isolate, who will continue to be able to stay longer in one place if necessary – as they are entitled to under Section 17 3 c ii of the British Waterways Act 1995; we recommend that you inform CRT.
CRT anticipates that its waterways in England will reopen in full on 1st June but leisure boaters still cannot stay on their boats overnight and should return to their home mooring if they have one. Wales is still in full lockdown so only essential boat movement is permitted on CRT’s Welsh canals. Scotland and Northern Ireland also remain in lockdown.
The Broads Authority has stated that navigation for day trips can resume, and rather smugly says that “Whilst other inland waterways face a delay in the return of powered private boats, the Broads is able to welcome boaters back because maintenance of the waterways has continued throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.”
Environment Agency (EA) waterways are still closed for all but essential navigation, but leisure boaters can now visit their boats. The current mooring exemptions remain in place but will be reviewed as the EA plans the resumption of leisure cruising. The EA waterways were badly affected by the winter floods and the inspection and repair of flood damaged structures and dredging needs to be completed before the waterways can reopen. The EA says that it has put in place several payment options for boat registration for customers who are in financial difficulty.
The Middle Level remains closed to navigation at present, with the Middle Level Commissioners (MLC) likely to follow the lead of the EA in the timetable for resuming navigation.
The Port of London Authority has issued a Notice to Mariners stating that recreational use of the Thames Tideway is now permitted.
The River Wey and Godalming navigations are open for day trips only from 16th May.
The Stratford Avon is still restricted to essential navigation only, and limited visits to moored leisure boats. Visitor mooring time limits and charges remain suspended and the Avon Navigation Trust still has considerable flood damage to repair before navigation can resume.
The River Cam navigation is now open to leisure users, but this is conditional on all river users maintaining the requirements of social distancing.
The use of private powered boats on the Bridgewater Canal can now resume.
There is no further information from Basingstoke Canal Authority.
Social distancing remains in force across all waterways, with boaters reminded to stay at least 2 metres from other people who are not part of their household; this also applies to angling, canoeing, paddleboarding and rowing, which have resumed on all waterways.
All Boat Safety certificates that would otherwise have expired are extended to 31st July 2020; see http://www.boatsafetyscheme.org/boat-examination-and-certification/qa-on-covid-19-suspension-and-bss-examinations/
See the latest information from navigation authorities here:
CRT https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views/news/our-english-waterways-to-reopen-for-navigation-in-three-phases and https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/safety-on-our-waterways/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-boating-faqs
Port of London Authority http://www.pla.co.uk/assets/9of2020-sportrecreationonthethames-covid19-may2020.pdf
Broads Authority https://www.broads-authority.gov.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19
Avon Navigation Trust https://www.avonnavigationtrust.org/covid-19-information/
Bridgewater Canal (Peel Holdings) http://www.bridgewatercanal.co.uk/news/article.aspx?ID=288
Cam Conservancy https://www.camconservancy.org/