News article created on 24 March 2020

Boaters' Update 24 Mar 2020

This special edition which gives you the latest information on how we’re dealing with the impacts of coronavirus and how it affects your boating – please pay particular attention to the first article which explains our decision to ask boaters to stop all non-essential travel on our waterways, with exception of accessing local facilities.

Two people walking on the towpath with pram Find your local canal

Welcome to this special edition which gives you the latest information on how we’re dealing with the impacts of coronavirus and how it affects your boating – please pay particular attention to the first article which explains our decision to ask boaters to stop all non-essential travel on our waterways, with exception of accessing local facilities.

Please follow the government advice – stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives

In it you’ll find:

Should I carry on cruising?

Our priority is to strictly follow Government advice to support the national effort to keep people safe and help fight the pandemic.

Following the announcement from the Prime Minister (8.30pm, 23 March 2020) regarding the UK’s response to the coronavirus crisis, we are asking leisure boaters to stop all non-essential travel.  As a result, and to help those who live-aboard (along with those who would need to travel to their boat in order to move it) we are suspending the requirement to move every 14 days.

We are asking boaters to stop all non-essential travel on our waterways, with exception of accessing local facilities. The suspension will be kept under review in line with revised government guidance, applying initially until 14 April 2020. During this period you do not need to contact us to tell us you will be staying one location for more than 14 days.

We ask everyone to be considerate and make sure vital boater facilities and services accessible to those that need them. 

There may, in a few cases, be the need to pass through manned structures. Information about this will be posted on regional webpages so please check if this applies to you.

Social distancing on canals, rivers and towpaths

While our towpaths remain open, use of them should now be limited. We are asking the general public that, if our canals and rivers are local to them, and they use the towpath for their daily exercise or journey to undertake essential work, to please now avoid any stretches with boats moored against the towpath, and strictly observe social distancing at all times, following the latest advice from Government. To help reinforce the message you can print off and display this sign in your boat window.

Key workers and those in at-risk groups

We have proactively contacted boaters who we know to be in a high risk group, including those with equality adjustments, those who have told us they are pregnant, and those who have told us they are over 70. We are letting them know their options and that we’re here to assist if they have any questions or concerns.

As well as contacting those we know are in high risk groups, we’re asking anyone who lives permanently on their boat and falls into one of the extremely vulnerable categories listed to get in touch with us and let us know so we can work with others to ensure their support.  We would encourage boaters to establish contact with friends and family where possible.

We also want to hear from you if you live permanently on your boat and are a key worker in one of the categories listed, so do please get in touch and let us know.

Please take the time to read the Government’s guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable people.

Boat Safety Scheme

We understand that those for whom the BSS is due to expire shortly will not be able to have an inspection and we will be considering what advice to give imminently.

Can I still get hold of pump-out cards and facilities keys?

Yes, these are still available. Wherever possible please purchase these from our online shop to reduce social contact with others – but please order well in advance as they may take longer than usual to be delivered. Our offices will be closed from 25 March 2020 until further notice to minimise social contact between both employees and members of the public.  If you have difficulty using the online shop or receiving post please get in touch and we will see how we can help

Ongoing maintenance work

There will still be some essential activities taking place around the waterway network. These include:

  • Water control/clearing grills
  • Inspections of reservoirs
  • Safety related repairs
  • Clearing fallen trees
  • Safety related maintenance and repairs of key structures (sluices, flood gates, lock gates, pumping stations, other water management assets)
  • Maintenance and repair of assets required for water supply/transfer contracts
  • Dock operations (for the passage of freight)
  • Manned structures required for access to services, see section on cruising
  • Essential weed control where needed for reasons of public safety

Waterway events

Following the latest advice issued by Government concerning mass gatherings and social distancing, we have made the decision to suspend all Trust public events until the end of June.

We will continue to follow the latest government advice and will update our event listings if the advice changes.

Licence fees

We are acutely aware of the financial issues and concerns that many of our boaters and business partners are facing. We will do what we can to support people during these highly unsettling times and be as flexible as we can regarding payment where there is genuine hardship. But we are facing significant financial challenges of our own, with a large and costly historic network to maintain and keep safe during this crisis, and we depend upon the income we earn to fund that work. Ultimately, we all need Government to act to provide support for people, and waterway businesses, who have suffered financial impact and we are doing what we can to raise this.

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The boaters' update

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