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COVID 19 Update: Paddling guidance for local restriction tiers in England

Tier 4 restrictions - Latest news 30 December 2020

The government has published Tier 4: Stay at Home guidance for England on what you can and cannot do in areas where tighter restrictions are in place.

The restrictions for new areas moving into tier 4 will come into place from 31 December.

Sport England have updated their guidance for sport and activity and produced a Tier 4: Stay at Home Infographic

The new Tier 4 guidance means that you cannot meet other people indoors, unless you live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household.

Find out what tier your area is in - last updated 30 December

For padding activities we have highlighted the following guidance below:


Exercise and recreational paddling

People can paddle recreationally and exercise outdoors, or visit some public outdoor places and sports facilities.

You can continue to do unlimited exercise:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household


Sports and physical activity

Outdoor sports facilities are allowed to open and can be used by individual households, bubbles or two people from different households. 

Organised outdoor sport for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020) and disabled people is allowed.

Adult sport cannot take place indoors, with leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools having to close.

Indoor sport is allowed for under-18s - only for educational purposes

There are no exceptions for disabled people taking part in sport or physical activity indoors.


The full Tier 4: Stay at Home guidance is available on the government website.


Paddling guidance across the four tier system in England

First published 2 December 2020, Updated 30 December 2020

Following the government’s announcement that all areas of England will return to a tiered system of coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions, British Canoeing has revised its paddling guidance for England.

The guidance issued is aligned with the government’s Covid-19 winter plan and the four tier system in EnglandThe tiers will be regularly assessed by government, with the latest changes announced on 30 December 2020.

To find out what alert tier your area is in, click here and enter your postcode.

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

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


Four tier system in England

In order to support members and the paddlesport community we have provided the current advice for how this applies in the four tier system in England - last updated on 30 December.

Sport England have updated their guidance for sport and activity and produced a series of infographics 

Tier 4: Stay at Home

Tier 3: Very High Alert

Tier 2: High Alert

Tier 1: Medium Alert


Organised and structured outdoor sporting activity and events

Tier 1/Tier 2/Tier 3
Structured activities can take place outdoors, organised by clubs, centres and hire providers which have conducted a COVID-19 risk assessment to reduce the risk of transmission through their facility.

All activity should be consistent with the government guidance regarding health, social distancing and hygiene.

Tier 3
Modifications to high-risk contact activities should be made in tier 3 areas

Tier 4
Outdoor sports facilities are allowed to open and but can be used by individual households, bubbles or two people from different households.

Organised outdoor sport for under-18s and disabled people is allowed.


Recreational paddling, including meeting with friends and family

In line with government guidelines, 'recreational paddling' is classed as an 'informal activity' which is not organised formally by a qualified instructor, in a club setting, a centre, hire provider, or charity.

Tier 1/Tier 2/Tier 3
Recreational paddling is permitted, on your own, with the people you live with, your support bubble and up to a maximum of six people from different households.

Tier 4
Recreational paddling is permitted, on your own, with the people you live with, your support bubble or two people from different households.


Indoor sporting activity - gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres

Facilities such as gyms, leisure centres and pools can reopen across some tiers, provided they follow the guidance set out for indoor sports facilities.

Tier 1 
Activities can take place within indoor settings, on your own, with the people you live with, your support bubble and up to a maximum of six people from different households.

Tier 2/Tier3/Tier 4
Activities cannot take place indoors if there is any interaction between people from different households.

Tier 3 and Tier 4
Organised indoor sport and physical activity cannot take place.

Tier 1/Tier 2/Tier 3
There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s.

Tier 4
Indoor sport is allowed for under-18s - only for educational purposes or to facilitate childcare that enables parents or carers to work, seek work or take part in education.

There are no exceptions for disabled people taking part in sport or physical activity indoors.


Coaching, leading and personal training activities in an outdoor setting

Tier 1/Tier 2/Tier 3

Coaching and leading can take place in groups in a public outdoor space.

COVID-secure guidance should be followed.

Coaching of under 18s and adults at risk on a 1:1 basis should be avoided

Tier 4

Coaching and leading can take place on a 1:1 basis in a public outdoor space.


Personal training sessions take place in indoor settings

Tier 1

Personal training sessions can continue in larger numbers, provided that participants are in separate groups of up to six people that do not mix.

Tier 2

Personal training sessions can take place provided there’s no mixing between people from different households or support bubbles. 

Tier 3

Group activity is not permitted indoors. Personal trainers are only permitted to undertake 1:1 sessions, or sessions for a group only if they’re all from the same household. This should not take place in a private house, so should take place in a gym or sport facility.

Tier 4 

1:1 sessions are not permitted indoors.


British Canoeing qualifications and awards

Tier 1/Tier 2/Tier 3

Professional training that is working towards an external accreditation recognised by a professional body (e.g. a national governing body coaching course) can go ahead across tiers 1-3. All qualifications and awards can take place in a public outdoor space.

Tier 3

People should either avoid or make modifications to high-risk contact activities in tier 3 areas


Travel for sport, exercise and personal training

Tier 1/Tier 2/Tier 3/Tier 4

Where possible paddle locally and reduce the number of journeys made

Tier 3

You can continue to travel into or out of tier 3 areas, and take part in a sporting activity, if you need to for work, education and training.  People shouldn't travel into stay at home (tier 4) alert areas.

Tier 4

If you live in a tier 4 area, you are able to leave your home for outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your tier 4 area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space). You shouldn’t leave your tier 4 area for sport and physical activity purposes. You can travel for work or education. 

There are stronger measures travelling to and from Scotland and Wales, that have been put into place by the devolved governments.


Hospitality bars and restaurants

There are restrictions on facilities which sell food or drinks.

Tier 1

Venues must be table service only.  They must stop taking orders at 10pm and must close by 11pm.

Tier 2

Venues must close unless operating as a restaurant, and can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.  Last orders at 10pm and must close by 11pm.

Tier 3 and Tier 4

Venues must close, with the exception of sales by takeaway, drive-through or delivery.


Further guidance for organised and structured sport

Current government advice for physical activity differentiates between ‘organised and structured’ and ‘informal or self-organised’ sport. 

DCMS - Coronavirus (COVID-19): grassroots sports guidance for the public and sport providers

DCMS - Coronavirus (COVID-19): grassroots sports guidance for safe provision including team sport, contact combat sport and organised sport events

In a paddling context, the government definition for organised sport is activity that is being delivered by a ‘provider’ where they are following British Canoeing guidance and have the appropriate measures in place to offer activities safely.

DCMS expects British Canoeing to ensure that action plans, risk assessments and mitigations are in place to enable a safe return of paddling, in line with an easing of social restrictions. 

The guidance provides information for individual paddlers, leaders, coaches and all providers of paddling activity, including but not limited to clubs, centres, providers and event organisers who deliver ‘structured and organised activity’.

Covid-19 Guidance for Paddling Safely in England - December 2020 v2 - PDF

Canoe Polo - A return to competitive play - updated December 2020 - PDF

Rafting - A return to competitive play - updated December 2020 - PDF



General paddlesport guidance

Outdoor exercise limits- There is no limit on the amount of time spent exercising outdoors, or the amount of times per day you can exercise outdoors.

Safety - We fully advocate staying safe on the water as we head into winter conditions and individual paddlers should restrict their paddlesport activities to environments which are well within their capabilities, alert friends and family to their activity and predicted return times and ensure they have a means to call for help, handy at all times.

A guide to staying safe during winter paddling is available on the Go Paddling website.

Waterways licence- Paddlers are reminded that a waterways licence is required to paddle on licensed waterways. Full details on membership is available on the British Canoeing website.

Useful links

COVID-19 Winter Plan - updated 23 November 2020

Full list of local restriction tiers by area - published 26 November 2020

DCMS - Coronavirus (COVID-19): grassroots sports guidance for the public and sport providers - 2 December

DCMS - Coronavirus (COVID-19): grassroots sports guidance for safe provision including team sport, contact combat sport and organised sport events - 2 December

DCMS - Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on the phased return of elite sport- 14 December

Sport England - Coronavirus

British Canoeing: Latest Guidance on British Canoeing Qualifications and Awards