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COVID-19 Update: Guidance for British Canoeing affiliated clubs

1 June 2020, updated 30 June 2020


Further to the advice issued by British Canoeing on the 12 May 2020 about a return to paddling and new guidance released by the Government on 1 June and 30 June, we are pleased to provide additional guidance to British Canoeing affiliated clubs in England.

In addition to facilities associated with outdoor sports being permitted to re-open from 13 May, (subject to them being ready to do so safely) from 1 June groups of six are now permitted to meet, subject to social distancing restrictions being met.

This means that club activities can now take place, where any paddling activity within the club has had due diligence and a risk assessment carried out by the relevant and accountable club representative(s), is organised and delivered in groups of no more than 6 club members.

From 4 July, up to two households are permitted to gather in groups of more than 6 people indoors or outdoors, provided members of different households can follow social distancing guidelines. Otherwise, gatherings of more than 6 people indoors or outdoors from different households continue not to be permitted. 

Social distancing guidelines should be followed wherever possible. From 4 July, this means a distance of 2m between people from different households, or 1m plus mitigations (such as face coverings or avoiding face-to-face contact) where 2m is not possible.

Bars and restaurants, including any food or drink facilities inside a clubhouse can open from 4 July, in accordance with the latest guidance

Toilets and through-ways may be kept open, but guidance on hygiene should be followed.

British Canoeing welcomes that restrictions continue to be lifted and would like to thank all paddlers and clubs for responding so responsibly during this lockdown period.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with documents issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published on the 1 June 2020 and updated on 30 June.

Sport England have also produced online guidance called Return to Play, which includes a Clubs Toolkit available on the Club Matters website.

Our priority remains to protect the health of our members, volunteers and staff and help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

We recommend that members continue to follow the government and public health guidelines and to stay at home as much as possible. Anyone who is symptomatic or suspects they have been exposed to the virus must not take part and remain at home.

#stayalert #controlthevirus #savelives

This guidance relates only to affiliated clubs in England, as policy and guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is subject to the devolved governments and their respective national governing bodies.

Considerations for clubs

It is important to remember that this is not a return to normal operations – only the absolute essential areas of clubs should be opened and only to facilitate access to boats and equipment. At this stage, communal areas, gyms, changing rooms and other similar facilities should remain closed and there should be no organised club activities or gatherings involving more than 6 people or group of up to two households are permitted.

Before reopening any of its facilities, clubs will need to put in place plans and COVID-19 risk assessments to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus through the use of any areas of the club or shared equipment. Every club will have slightly different considerations. However, we have listed below some suggested areas to think about.

There are a number of other important considerations for clubs when they are developing their plans for allowing access to their facilities. These are presented within the UK Government published guidance for providers of outdoor facilities.

Some clubs may also need to coordinate with other clubs operating from the same premises and/or facility owners to agree their protocols.

Clubs should only re-open when they have completed the necessary planning and feel able to do so safely. 


Managing access to the club

Whilst access to the club must be limited, it is very important to put in place plans to help people to follow social distancing guidance.  Clubs should consider:

  • limiting the number of people allowed into particular areas at one time;
  • limiting the number of people accessing the boathouse by implementing a timetable or online booking system;
  • managing access to shared equipment by implementing a online booking system;
  • putting a one-way system in place; and,
  • checking members have the appropriate keys and locks to access the required facilities
  • clubs keep a 21 day record of who has used club facilities, including paddlers and volunteers, to assist with the track and trace process.

All members when using the facility must follow the Government’s social distancing rules.


Social distancing

Clubs should have plans in place to ensure the management of social distancing including;

  • carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment
  • maintaining 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible, such as by re-designing spaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people or by opening more entrances and exits
  • From 4 July, social distancing remains 2 metres between people from different households, or 1 metre plus mitigations (such as face coverings or avoiding face-to-face contact) but only where 2 metres is not possible.
  • reinforcing cleaning processes, cleaning more frequently and paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards.


Club Activity

Club Associate members can now take part in any club activity (and are covered for third party liability insurance) for any paddling activity within their club that has had due diligence/risk assessment carried out by the relevant and accountable club representative(s).

Organised club activity will be delivered in groups of no more than 6 club members and is promoted on the official club calendar, website, social media or noticeboard.

Large Gatherings

From 4 July, social interactions should be limited to two households (a support bubble counts as one household) in any location; or, if outdoors, potentially up to six people from different households. It will be against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place. 

Premises or locations which are COVID-19 Secure will be able to hold more than 30 people, subject to their own capacity limits, although any individual groups should not interact with anyone outside of the group they are attending the venue with - so in a group no larger than two households or six people if outdoors.

Those operating venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public and prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place.

Led, coached or guided activity at clubs

Led, coached, or guided activity may now take place on a 1:5 basis so long as social distancing is maintained. Anyone leading a 1:5 activity should ensure appropriate safety frameworks are in place, that delivery is in safe and familiar environments and that the paddler is self-sufficient and no equipment is shared.

Clubs and coaches are reminded that any coaching of under 18s and adults at risk on a 1:1 basis should be avoided. The relaxation of the government guidance on social gatherings now means that group coaching (up to 1:5) or individual coaching with parent/carer supervision can now take place. Clubs and coaches are reminded of the principles of British Canoeing’s safeguarding policy. 

More information is available in our guidance for paddlesport coaches and leaders.

Awards and qualifications

British Canoeing qualifications and awards are delivered across the globe and we recognise that lockdown measures and easing of restrictions are different in every country. Some learners and providers are starting to consider their development by attending/offering British Canoeing courses. 

More information is available in our Guidance on British Canoeing Qualifications and Awards


It is really important that clubs make communication with members very clear including;

  • how members are able to access equipment/facilities and their responsibilities when on site
  • what they are doing to reduce risk and what they expect from users to do the same
  • opening times and how to use booking systems
  • what users need to know and do to secure the club when leaving.


Which areas of the club to open

Clubs are advised only to open the minimum facilities required to allow access to boats and equipment in a safe manner. Gyms, changing rooms and social spaces should remain closed.

Bars and restaurants, including any food or drink facilities inside a clubhouse can open from 4 July, in accordance with the latest guidance

Clubs may open toilets but only when handwash is provided and water has been switched on and checked to be safe. Clubs should also consider limiting the number of people entering and toilet facilities to allow for social distancing.

You may re-open car parks if you need to.

Cleaning and hygiene

Clubs are required to manage hygiene and should consider:

  • encouraging members to follow good hand hygiene practices at all times;
  • placing hand sanitiser at entrances/exits and common contact touch points (e.g. padlocks, door handles);
  • appropriate protocols and products for cleaning any shared equipment before and after usage; and,
  • putting in place a regular cleaning plan, particularly for any common touch points (door handles, locks etc.).

This is detailed within the government guidance here.


Access to water

Clubs are responsible for checking to ensure that if their members are planning to paddle on a licensed waterway, that there are no paddling restrictions in place. Further information on Navigation Authorities can be found at the British Canoeing website.


Boats and equipment

Clubs are urged to ensure that the use of shared equipment is kept to a minimum to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. Ideally, place any unnecessary equipment in storage. 

Club boats can be used subject to a booking system being in place and a rigorous cleaning and hygiene procedure being followed to clean the boat after use.



It is the responsibility of the club to plan for and ensure that paddling activity takes place within the government guidelines and existing safety frameworks. Clubs must be mindful that members who are not individual British Canoeing members are only covered by the insurance and waterway licence when participating in club activity.

In this first phase of return to activity, we are recommending that paddlers restrict their paddlesport activities to environments which are well within their capabilities. 

All activity at the club needs to fall within the club’s safety plan and British Canoeing Paddlesafe guidance. Paddlers should ensure that they have a means to call for help at all times.

Further information

British Canoeing will continue to develop more guidance and advice for clubs as more information becomes available.

British Canoeing - A return to paddling in England

DCMS - Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on the phased return of sport and recreation

HM Government Coronavirus COVID-19 website

UK ACTIVE Guidance on cleaning at sports facilities

Club Covid 19 Risk Assessment Template (PDF)  

Club Covid 19 Risk Assessment Template (Word)

COVID 19 Consent Form

COVID Club Posters