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New national restrictions in England from 5 November

by Loretta Spridgeon, RYA 4 Nov 14:24 UTC
Social distancing signage at a sailing club © RYA

Following the Prime Minister's announcement at the weekend, England is due to enter into a four week period of lockdown restrictions from 00:01am tomorrow, Thursday 5 November.

The new restrictions www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november#stay-at-home will remain in place until Wednesday 2 December and during this period you must:

  1. Stay at home, except for specific purposes.
  2. Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
  3. Close certain businesses and venues.

The statutory instrument published yesterday is still to be debated in Parliament later today, which does not give boaters and clubs much time to adapt to the latest new reality. As such, we are continuing to liaise with other marine bodies, Government departments, and various partners including Sport England and UK Sport, to get as much clarity and understanding as possible on what this means for boating in England.

Dialogue is also continuing with the Department for Education around the details of what is possible as part of training and education.

Clubs, classes and centres up and down the country have made a huge effort to keep members active and on the water despite the many challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has presented. The RYA and the sports sector throughout have presented strong arguments about the importance of activity during the pandemic, but for the next month most facilities will have to close. It is clear the Government does not want to grant multiple exemptions at this time and are focused on protecting the NHS.

Our current understanding of the situation (subject to any local restrictions) is as follows:

  • Recreational boating from a public outdoor space for single households and support bubbles or with one other person (with social distancing) may be possible
  • Public waterways and beaches will remain open during the lockdown
  • Outdoor sports centres and amenities (which includes sailing clubs and watersports centres) will have to close
  • Members may be able to access boats for essential checks and maintenance, however, this will need to be agreed with their club/marina/harbour authority, with individuals taking personal responsibility for meeting Government guidance
  • University sport will not be taking place
  • School sport will be happening but only as part of organised school activity
  • Some charities may be able to continue aspects of their work
  • There are continuing exemptions for elite athletes for them to train or compete, so the British Sailing Team programme can continue
  • No overnight stays are allowed on boats except for residential berth holders (where the boat is their Primary Residence) or for business purposes
The boating community has proven that it can be trusted to operate in a Covid secure manner under RYA guidance and the RYA will continue to stress to Government both the low risks of a sport such as boating as well as the positive physical and mental benefits that our sport brings. We believe this is especially important for young people at this time.

We will continue to ask our staff to work at home if possible during the lockdown period, while key functions of the RYA will continue to operate on a reduced basis.

More detail is expected once Parliament has voted later today, and we will be working hard to help answer some of the more detailed questions we know our members have. We will make further announcements after that time and we wish to thank the whole community for their patience and their understanding of the need to act responsibly and in accordance with Government regulations.

The measures in place to protect against Covid-19 are vital in keeping us all safe, and boating is part of that effort. You can help to protect your friends and family by downloading the NHS COVID-19 App to keep updated on the latest guidance from Thursday 5 November.

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